Parramatta’s homeless receive free health screening

The multidisciplinary outreach team featured HIV team leader Jeffrey Dabbhadatta, hepatology nurse Kristen McKee, nurse Donna Tilley, Will Smith from Hepatitis NSW, Olivia Thackeray from the needle and syringe program, and Amanda Mai from Westmead Hospital.

Homeless people in Parramatta have received liver screening and a sexual health check-up thanks to mobile services provided by Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD).

The services reached 27 people with two recent outreach events to test for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV and sexually transmitted infections.

WSLHD health promotion officer Anju Devkota said more than 80 people at the outreach events in Parramatta engaged with health promotion material.

“A peer support worker from Hepatitis NSW was valuable in engaging and referring clients to the screening,” Anju said.

The health promotion stall was set up at Parramatta Mission’s regular meal program.

“Integrated outreach screening with peer support has proven to be effective in reaching at-risk populations in western Sydney.”

The mobile van outreach service was made up of a variety of WSLHD teams including Westmead Hospital Storr Liver Centre, Western Sydney Sexual Health Centre, Drug Health, Needle and Syringe Program, HIV and Related Programs and Hepatitis NSW.

The integrated team first joined forces with local homelessness organisation Parramatta Mission to connect with the disadvantaged community while they were attending a regular meal service.

Ten people had pathology collected to test for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV and syphilis, and of those three were referred for hepatitis C treatment.

The team also attended the Western Sydney Homeless Connect event in Centenary Square, Parramatta.

The team re-implemented the service for Western Sydney Homeless Connect, an annual event that aims to connect to those who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness with a range of support service providers in one place.

Blood tests, liver function tests and comprehensive sexual health screening was provided to nearly 20 people, with results including one positive case of chlamydia.

Storr Liver Centre clinical nurse consultant Kristen McKee said the outreach van project will be offering this integrated service in western Sydney on a regular basis, including monthly outreach to Parramatta Mission.

“Delivering equitable healthcare to our district’s most underprivileged people is important,” Kristen said.