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First clinic of visiting eye service in Cobar a success

Wednesday March 11, 2009

Eye doctors visit Cobar
Cobar Primary Health Care Centre’s Bernice Martin and Charee Beard with eye specialist Dr Kyriacos Mavrolefteros and Outback Eye Service manager Joanna Barton last week for the service’s first clinic in Cobar.

The Outback Eye Service commenced its practise in Cobar last week in association with the Cobar Primary Health Care Centre.

Outback Eye Service manager Joanna Barton and Dr Kyriacos Mavrolefteros travelled to Cobar to conduct the free service, which is an arm of the Prince of Wales Eye Service and has been travelling to the western region for the past 34 years.

Mrs Barton said last week’s clinic proved there was a large unmet need in Cobar.

“We had a very busy clinic on both days with people seeking support for a range of eye problems and it does appear there is a backlog of patients which will take some time to get on top of,” she said.

Mrs Barton said some of the local patients have presented with eye issues such as cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and diabetes-related eye problems.

While Dr Mavrolefteros has donated much of his older equipment to help get the service up and running, Mrs Barton said they are still hoping to get more and are seeking government funding for the service.

Outback Division of General Practice chief executive officer Stuart Gordon said the service is a welcome addition to the Cobar Primary Health Care Centre (PHCC).

“It is very pleasing to see the PHCC continuing to expand the services available to people in Cobar, but issues relating to relative costs for infrastructure, air transport and indeed supporting more allied health and visiting services remain major challenges for the Division.

“The Division and the Outback Eye Service is currently working to raise funds for additional equipment that can be permanently left in Cobar to support procedures,” Mr Gordon said.

Mrs Barton and Mr Gordon have both urged locals to take advantage of the service, which will visit Cobar twice a month, for two days at a time.

“People should be having their eyes checked early, instead of waiting until they have a problem.

“Children should also have their eyes checked, it is important to pick any problems up when young,” Mrs Barton said.

The eye service includes a visiting optometrist, eye nurse and ophthalmologist and is a 100 per cent bulk-billing program, including access to free spectacles for health care card holders and pensioners.

There is no criteria for an appointment and no referral is needed.

“We hope to generate enough work for the ophthalmologist (eye specialist),” she said.

“We perform a thorough check of the eyes and can refer the patient to an ophthalmologist,” Mrs Barton said.

She said while seniors are currently the main customers of the service, she would like to “see everyone in Cobar”.

“Eyes are just one part of the body that needs to be looked at. “Make it part of your health lifestyle checks,” Mrs Barton said.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009 10:05 AM