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Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia

RHD Australia

Margaret and DJ, Fitzroy Crossing

Margaret___DJ_FXC.JPGLocal staff initiative helps to improve acute rheumatic fever prevention

In late 2014, data from the Western Australian RHD Register showed that patients in the Fitzroy Crossing area were not receiving 100% of the benzathine penicillin G (BPG) injections, known as secondary prophylaxis, required to effectively prevent rheumatic fever. Even one missed injection leaves people vulnerable to repeat episodes of rheumatic fever and potential heart damage.

Fitzroy Crossing Hospital staff Margaret Blake, a Practice Nurse, and DJ McNamara, an Aboriginal Liaison Officer, decided it was time for a solution. Margaret and DJ discovered, through talking to their patients, that people were being deterred from attending the hospital for their injections because they had to wait long periods of time before being seen.

Margaret and DJ started a three month trial picking up patients, taking them to the hospital, and ensuring they were seen quickly. The trial was so successful that Margaret and DJ continued to offer the service, and it has now morphed into a system where the majority of patients make their own way to the hospital for treatment because they know they don’t have to wait to be seen.

When Margaret & DJ were asked about what they considered to be the important aspects of the service they provided, they said that building a rapport with patients was vital, and giving the injection slowly to reduce pain showed that they cared.

DJ said, “Education not only for patients but for the whole community is important because it enables the community to support people to get their injections”.

When it was suggested that the pair be nominated for an award for the work they have done to improve secondary prophylaxis coverage in Fitzroy Crossing, both shunned the suggestion saying "this is our job."