Merilyn Spratling, Nurse Practitioner and program coordinator of EACH’s Refugee Health Program in Melbourne’s eastern region, presented at the national conference of the Australian College of Nurse Practitioner’s (ACNP) last week in Melbourne. The title of her paper was “Refugee Health Nurse Practitioners – transforming care for people of Refugee & Asylum Seeker backgrounds”. The paper presented a case study of a newly arrived Karen family which described their refugee journey from Burma to a Thai refugee camp and then to Australia. The paper discussed some of the issues families face in their early period of settlement. It also highlighted some of the common presenting health issues, noting that if issues are identified early, most can be quickly treated and/or appropriately managed. EACH refugee health nurses see all newly arrived refugees within 4 weeks of their arrival, with a professional interpreter, for a comprehensive refugee health assessment. They also provide care for people seeking asylum, and refugees post-settlement who have fallen through the “health service gap”.
In addition to a broad range of topics covered in keynote and concurrent papers, the ACNP conference offered workshops. Merilyn enjoyed ‘introduction to suturing’, a popular choice with all the delegates.