Welcome to Country now greets Auburn Hospital patients

Auburn Hospital nurse unit manager Riki Richards and Aboriginal patient Kayla Brown watched the Welcome to Country on Kayla’s patient entertainment system.

Being far from home can be daunting for anyone, but a new initiative at Auburn Hospital is helping Aboriginal patients feel more comfortable during their stay.

A Welcome to Country video featuring Darug elder Greg Simms is now available to watch for free on all patient entertainment systems at the hospital, and soon to be rolled out across Western Sydney Local Health District.

The initiative was the brainchild of Auburn Hospital surgical ward nurse unit manager Riki Richards, a proud Gadigal woman of the Eora nation.

“A lot of Aboriginal patients who come to Auburn Hospital can feel quite isolated and disconnected from their community,” Riki said.

“That’s one reason Aboriginal patients are more likely to leave hospital before their treatment is complete, and less likely to return for follow-up appointments.

“It’s our duty to do everything we can to help close the gap and improve Aboriginal health outcomes across the board.”

Aboriginal elder Uncle Greg Simms welcomes patients and visitors to Darug land.

Riki thanked patient and carer experience officer George Varipatis for getting the video on all systems at Auburn Hospital within 48 hours of her raising the possibility.

“I saw it and I just thought it was a beautiful piece to watch, which would make any Aboriginal patient feel welcome and comfortable and very proud,” she said.

“And that’s what we want. We don’t want to feel special, just equal and proud.”

Welcome and proud summed up how Gamilaroi woman Kayla Brown felt after watching the video during a short stay at Auburn Hospital recently.

Her routine tonsillectomy meant travelling an hour from Windsor and staying overnight.

“It wouldn’t faze me not having the video, but it is good to feel welcomed,” Kayla said.

“It’s hard being here with my son at home, but I would come back if I needed to because Riki has made me feel so welcome. She’s been amazing.”