Liesel Younger, Manager says the move to Ballina has been a very positive outcome for sharing of resources and improving the continuum of care for patients being discharged back into the community from Rehabilitation Units. The colocation at the Ballina District Hospital has also allowed for the creation of Specialist Brain Injury and Spinal Cord Injury Outpatient Clinics.
In 2013, the Northern NSW region received a funding enhancement from the NSW Ministry of Health for an additional Rural Spinal Cord Injury Coordinator. This supported the recruitment of a Spinal Cord Injury Coordinator for the NNSW LHD, who is now co-located with the NBIRS at the Ballina Hospital Rehabilitation Unit.
The NBIRS is staffed by three Rehabilitation Coordinators, one of whom is based at Maclean Community Health, providing a valuable service to the Clarence Valley community.
The Service also employs a part time Neuropsychologist, a Visiting Medical Neuropsychiatrist, a Rehabilitation Specialist, a fulltime Manager and Administration Officer.
Dr Brian Pezzutti, Chair, Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSW LHD) said the increase in people living with a spinal cord injury (SCI) and brain injury in their own communities has meant that metropolitan specialist units are unable to offer comprehensive follow up treatment, or to meet the needs of many people, including rural people with long established injuries.
Chris Crawford, Chief Executive NNSW LHD said these services exist so that people with a traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury, their families and carers have equitable access to a range of rehabilitation services that aim to improve the quality of life through increasing independence, self-determination and community participation.“The NBIRS and Rural Spinal Cord Injury Service (RSCIS) in NNSW LHD has increased the opportunities for people living in rural areas with a spinal cord injury or a traumatic brain injury to have access to local services.”
“It also means that local rural clinicians have access to a brain injury and spinal specific service for specialist consultation, support and linkages to key metropolitan services. This enables rural clinicians to manage the increasing number of patients locally, or be linked into specialised services for their patients if needed,” Mr Crawford said.
The NNSW LHD also benefits from the specialist multidisciplinary Sydney based team, who fly to the region annually to conduct a four day clinic for local patients. Due to the high demand, a second clinic is being held in Grafton this year,” Ms Younger said.“Northern NSW has a high population of people living with a spinal cord injury in the region and there is a high demand for services provided by the Rural Spinal Cord injury Coordinator.