Kidney health improves five-fold

INNOVATOR: Renal Nurse Practitioner Graeme Turner at Bugalwena General Practice.
INNOVATOR: Renal Nurse Practitioner Graeme Turner at Bugalwena General Practice. Alina Rylko

Alina Rylko

A TWEED Heads indigenous health clinic has won one of the state’s highest health accolades for drastically raising early detection of kidney disease.

The project was led by renal nurse practitioner Graeme Turner, whose team helped increase early detection of kidney disease in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander residents five-fold.

The project was undertaken in collaboration with Tweed Heads Bugalwena General Practice and the North Coast Medicare Local (now North Coast Primary Healthcare Network).

Mr Turner said he targeted renal disease because in his career he had worked at many dialysis units and seen first-hand how tough ongoing treatment with a dialysis machine was for patients.

He said chronic kidney disease disproportionally affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people – 18% who have the disease are not aware of it, compared to 10% of Caucasians.

“Early detection and management can slow progression of the disease and avoid or delay future requirement for dialysis,” Mr Turner said.

Health Minister Jillian Skinner awarded the clinic the Integrated Health Care Award at the NSW Health Awards at a gala ceremony in Sydney.

“Before the project began, only 2% of adult clients were identified as having the disease. That has grown to 10.7%,” she said.

Bugalwena GP used existing computer systems to find patients with symptoms of kidney disease to call them back for further tests.

The number of people identified increased from 10 to over 70 at Bugalwena GP, and the program will be implemented in other parts of state.

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