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Latest news, health news and press releases from UQ Health Care.

Five questions for Dr Elizabeth Justo

This month we spoke Dr Elizabeth Justo, UQ Health Care General Practitioner at Aveo Durack.

What inspired you to pursue a career?
I started off in paediatrics, but transitioned to general practice to fit with my growing family’s needs

What have been your highlights whilst working at AVEO Durack?
The relationships I have developed with patients, and their families, with co-workers in every capacity from nursing staff, carers, village staff, and my medical colleagues who continue to amaze and inspire me with their dedication and skill. I have learnt much of life from my relationships at Aveo.

What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day is a cup of coffee, a big breath, then running/juggling consulting room and treatment room and emergency walk-ins. I am often apologising for a long waiting time to a smiling patient and an overflowing waiting room. More coffee, biscuits dropped in from wonderful patients, computer paperwork and then house calls around the community for those too frail/unwell to come to the surgery.

What aspects of your role in providing health care for older people do you enjoy the most?
It is a privilege to do this work with the aged, to become involved in their lives, getting to know them as people not just their illnesses, to know their families, their contribution to Australia and their community, and to care for them professionally at this very vulnerable time of life. They are deserving of the very best of care and support. The wisdom, the humour, appreciation and love they give back is what it is all about.

What are your interests outside of work?
I have a very busy and dedicated husband and three gorgeous sons, as well as a very strong extended family. I love reading, walking, and our labrador and look forward to having more time one day to learn bridge and travel.



The GP service offering a lifeline to homeless men

Homelessness increased by 14 percent between the 2011 and 2016 censuses, with over 116,420 people now thought to have no permanent home in Australia.

The rate of homeless men increased from 54 to 58 per 10,000, according to the data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in March this year.

There is considerable research to suggest an overlap between people experiencing precarious housing, and drug and alcohol misuse, that has created an increased need for a partnered approach to homelessness and addiction services.

UQ Health Care Clinical Lead in homelessness and addiction medicine, Dr Nancy Sturman, manages general practice support for the Ozcare Men’s Homeless Hostel and the Ozcare Integrated Drug Treatment Unit.

“I work in collaboration with Ozcare nurses, case workers, and other health professionals from Queensland Health, Mater Public Hospital and non-government organisations to provide general practice care.

“We provide care that addresses clients’ priorities, takes a trauma-informed approach, helps minimise the harms of substance use, links clients to other outreach supports, hospital-based treatment and counselling, and includes regular general practice care.”

Dr Sturman has 28 years experience as a general practitioner and a special interest in mental health issues and substance use disorders.

“My clients are often very generous with their thanks and positive feedback and appreciate the care.

“In times of trouble any success can be important, such as the clearance of Hepatitis C infection with treatment. These successes can increase self-belief and optimism about the future.

“I am often inspired by our clients, as many of the men I treat have a lot of resilience and courage despite years of experiencing accumulated trauma and pain, and significant mental health and health literacy issues.”

The Ozcare Integrated Drug Treatment Unit is a service that homeless men with alcohol or drugs problem can access and receive treatment via live-in detox programs and recovery services.

UQ Health Care Chief Executive Officer Darryl Grundy said the general practice support Dr Sturman delivers to homeless men is an important function of UQ Health Care.

“Dr Sturman and the team are highly regarded health professionals who play a significant role in supporting homeless men in Brisbane with their physical and mental health and addiction issues they face,” Mr Grundy said.

“These organisations are vital to provide health and social support to people experiencing homelessness.”

Allies in longevity: Ita Buttrose visits UQ Healthy Living

UQ Healthy Living welcomed Five Good Friends ambassador and positive ageing advocate Ita Buttrose AO OBE to its Toowong premises this week, to share how its integrated health and lifestyle programs are transforming Brisbane’s over 50s.

As a legendary media trailblazer, businesswoman, best-selling author, community and welfare contributor and 2013 Australian of the Year, Ms Buttrose’ name has become synonymous with successful ageing.

Before touring UQHL facilities, Ms Buttrose spoke on behalf of home care provider Five Good Friends at the ‘CHAT Speaker Series’ about the importance of maintaining fitness and sociability.

“Not enough (health professionals) recommend the need to improve balance through exercise to prevent falls,” Ms Buttrose said.

“I believe improving balance is a really neglected area of improving seniors’ health.”

Clinical Director and physiotherapist Simon Whitehart introduced Ms Buttrose to seniors engaging in exercise programs designed to improve specific vulnerabilities, like poor balance and strength, while on the UQHL tour.

“We’re excited to share with Five Good Friends how our programs work and introduce Ita to some of the people who have had their lives transformed since joining our community,” Mr Whitehart said.

The clinic, developed by The University of Queensland and UQ Health Care, promotes healthy ageing and wellbeing in older adults by providing assessments and interventions in exercise, diet and lifestyle.

“We want to help our clients remain as healthy, active and independent as they can be.”

Clinical educators such as Mr Whitehart are leaders in their field and closely guide UQ students as they contribute to the patient journey.

Treatment is informed by the latest research as students bring new teachings and innovation to the front line of healthcare.

Bringing together services in dietetics, exercise and sports science, clinical exercise physiology, nursing, pharmacy, physiotherapy and psychology, patients can access individual consults and small group activities as part of their tailored plan.

Inga Cahill M: 0402 900 121

Five questions for Dr Nga Phan

This month we spoke to Dr Nga Phan, General Practitioner at the UQ Health Care Cornwall Street Medical Centre.

 What inspired you to pursue a career as a general practitioner?
As a general practitioner, what I enjoy most about my work is the variety of health problems that I get to see and treat.  I am the first point of contact for medical issues for my patients and most of my patients will continue to see me in the long term for advice and treatment.

General practice also offers excellent work prospects.  Everyone will need to see a doctor at some point in their lives and with a growing population, the demand for services is great.

What does a typical day look like for you?
On a typical day, I usually spend around eight hours consulting and half an hour on administrative work.  I see patients and their families from all ages and provide a range of services from treating acute and chronic illnesses to providing preventative health and health education.

What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most?
I am a general practitioner with a special interest in ear, nose and throat disorders.  In particular, I have an interest in chronic sinus disease. I have completed a Master’s degree in this area.  My workplace is also well equipped to allow me to perform ear examinations and cleaning using microscope suction.

What are your interests outside of work?
Maintaining a good work-life balance is important to me and general practice allows me to fulfill this.  I play tennis three times a week and jog/cycle most other days.  I am also a keen traveller and enjoy visiting other parts of Australia and overseas with my family and friends.

What do you love about living in Brisbane?
I love living and working in a metropolitan area.  Living in Brisbane, I enjoy the warmer climate.  I also think that our city has beautiful architecture, parks and riverfronts.



Prescribing exercise as medicine

A weekly exercise program prescribed by UQ Health Care Accredited Exercise Physiologist, Steve Royle has improved 79 year old Janice’s health, fitness, strength and mobility.

Janice is one of Steve’s many clients who use an exercise plan to manage and prevent chronic injuries and health issues.

“Since starting with Steve at the Healthy Living Centre I have noticed improvements in my aerobic fitness, muscle strength and muscle mass,” Janice said.

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Everything you can possibly do to avoid the dreaded flu

We are already over half way through Winter, however the peak flu season hasn’t hit yet. Data from Flutracking, a survey backed by various Australian and New Zealand government health bodies shows that in Australia on average, between 2012 and 2016, the peak flu season didn’t hit until August. So as more people around you contract the flu how do you protect yourself?

General Practitioner Dr Toby Smith from UQ Health Care’s St Lucia clinic said the first and most important way is to get your flu shot.

“The flu shot not only helps to reduce your risk of getting the flu but it also helps to prevent people around you from getting the flu including those at most risk such as older people, those with weakened immune systems and children,” Dr Smith said.

“Flu viruses are spread by tiny droplets when people with the flu cough or sneeze.

“You can become infected with a flu after touching a contaminated surface then rubbing your eyes, nose or mouth.

“Even though it is so easily spread there are ways we can try and prevent these nasty viruses and help each other if you do come down with a flu.”

Dr Smith recommends six tips to avoid the flu as we approach the peak flu season.

Get the flu shot
The best and most simple way to reduce your risk of contracting the flu is to get immunised each year.

Wash your hands
Clean your hands regularly with soap and water or hand sanitiser, as this will help reduce the risk of infection with the virus.

Keep hydrated
Adequate water intake is essential to ensure your immune system is working effectively and also aids in eliminating toxins from your body. Aim for at least eight glasses or two litres of water a day.

Eat healthy
A varied diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables is an important factor in any healthy lifestyle. Foods high in vitamin A, vitamin C and zinc will all help to keep you healthy during the flu season.

Exercise regularly
Regular exercise helps to boost circulation allowing your immune cells to better patrol your body and fight off infections before they can take hold. As an added bonus, exercise also causes the release of endorphins which make you feel happier too.

Quit smoking
Cigarette smoke irritates the lining of the nose and throat making it easier for viruses to cause an infection. Smokers also tend to have a more severe reaction to viral infections, including the flu, than non-smokers.






Five questions for Dr Brigid Flanders

This month we spoke to Dr Brigid Flanders, General Practitioner at the UQ Health Care Cornwall Street Medical Centre.

What inspired you to become a GP?
During the course of my secondary school education in science, I was introduced to a range of vocational options and I believed that studying and practising medicine suited my interests and my orientation to caring for people’s wellbeing. After graduating, I spent three years working in hospitals and during this time, I realised that my greatest interest was in providing continuing care not just emergency care. The role of a specialist general practitioner was the best fit for me.

What were some of your highlights whilst working as registrar at the Cornwall Street Medical Centre?
I came to Cornwall Street Medical Centre in my final semester as a GP Registrar. I found the work with young and medically oriented patients interesting and varied. The level of support of the Practice Manager, senior GPs and other staff was a highlight. Another highlight was that I gathered an increasing number of families and child patients.

How did this experience equip you to become a GP?
A GP could spend their working day in their consulting room seeing only patients. I learned that it’s very important to become part of a collegial group of medical practitioners that includes but also extends beyond other GP colleagues. I learned to value professional conversations very highly because GPs are presented with such a wide range of medical problems to solve each and every day, it’s often through continuing professional conversations that your knowledge and skills expand to suit the demands of the role.

What does a typical day look like for you?
The only things that are ‘typical’ in my working days are where I work and when I work. The vast range of medical issues that I deal with and the number of different patients that I see means that my work each day is always varied.

My pattern of work is as follows… I try to arrive usually half an hour before my first appointment so that I can check and act on results that may have come in. I spend all morning consulting, try to keep on time for patients and so that I can share lunch with and catch up with colleagues. Following afternoon consultations, I typically follow up administration arising from the days consultations and incoming results.

What are your interests outside of work?
Maintaining fitness and family related activities are my greatest interests outside work, alongside music, film and the beach.

Lunch break high intensity work out

When you have minimal time and you want the best fitness results, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) has proven to be the most beneficial. HIIT involves shorts bursts of high intensity exercise, separated by periods of low intensity exercise or rest.

University of Queensland School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences PhD student and Accredited Exercise Physiologist Emily Cox said the key benefits of HIIT workouts include:

  • Boosts your metabolism
  • Improves your fitness
  • Requires little to no equipment
  • Can be adjusted to suit anyone

Emily suggests a HIIT workout routine that could be done at home between study or at work during a lunch break.

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Five questions for Julie-Anne Whittaker

This month we spoke to Julie-Anne Whittaker, UQ Health Care Nurse Practitioner at Aveo Durack and Newstead.

How long have you been working with UQ Health Care at the St Lucia Clinic?
Since July 2012

What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day can include visiting residents with acute health concerns and prescribing a treatment plan, reviewing residents who have been unwell to ensure they are responding to treatment, reviewing healthy residents monthly as part of a general check-up and arranging geriatrician reviews via telehealth. Providing end of life care to residents is an important part of my role to ensure residents remain comfortable and family are supported during this difficult time.

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Nurse practitioner model of care embraced

Since the UQ Health Care nurse practitioner model of care was introduced at Aveo Durack the number of aged care residents admitted to hospital has significantly decreased.

UQ Health Care Chief Executive Officer Darryl Grundy said a nurse practitioner available full time on site has enabled residents’ medical requirements to be attended to more rapidly and in many instances treated on-site.

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