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Latest news from East Timor Hearts Fund
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Volunteers Dr Ari, Christie (tech), Dr Srinidhi and Corinne (tech)
Paediatric screening is a specialised field

Dear *|HTML:FIRSTNAME|*,

On March 2nd, we held our first paediatric online clinic with patients in Timor-Leste and volunteer cardiologists Dr Ari Horton and Dr Srinidhi Rau, and their team of health professionals in Melbourne and Darwin, to monitor the health of our youngest patients.

Paediatric cardiology is a specialised field which also comes with additional logistical complexities, accommodating child guardians as part of the service delivery. This milestone event has enabled us to provide continuity of support by managing treatment options during this current interim COVID-normal phase.

Our team of Australian-based volunteers, along with in-country partners Maluk Timor worked tirelessly to prepare and deliver this paediatric online clinic to support young heart patients and their carers until surgical options resume.
 
We are so grateful to our wonderful volunteer paediatric cardiologists and health technicians for their great work on our first online paediatric cardiac screening clinic. We will now build this specialised format into our regular range of services to support children and young people living with heart disease in Timor-Leste.

COVID can't stop us

Though COVID-19 and related travel restrictions have constrained our surgeries, face-to-face clinics and live events, we are not letting the pandemic stop us.
 
Since our last newsletter:

  • I caught up with our patient Jose and his brother Victor at Monash Health where Jose had a check up with Prof Andrew Cochrane.  Thanks to a great recovery, Jose will soon be able to return home to Timor-Leste,
  • Our very energetic volunteer paediatric cardiologist Dr Ari Horton delivered an online echocardiography training course for local Timorese healthcare workers,
  • We conducted our first online paediatric cardiac clinic thanks to Dr Ari and Dr Srinidhi Rao, 
  • We conducted our second adult online cardiac clinic thanks to Dr Will Wilson and Dr Liz Paratz, and 
  • We have started the process to expand our membership base to take our engagement with our stakeholders to the next level.
Soon, we will be announcing our new strategic plan for 2021-2024 and launching a number of very exciting projects to expand our ability to save lives through surgery, increase our work in the prevention of heart disease, and to build capacity in Timor-Leste to diagnose, manage and treat rheumatic heart disease.

 

 

David Marlow
Chief Executive Officer
David and recent heart surgery patient Jose
Adapting and delivering vital services
 
Well, we are still in a COVID enforced state of comparative inactivity, but despite that doing useful work.
 
Ari Horton ran an online clinic earlier in the week, with substantial resources he was able to muster from paediatric cardiology colleagues. Very busy, and useful work done.
 
Ari also conducted echo training online for Timorese healthcare staff, capacity building being part of our long term agenda and enhancing local skills proving particularly crucial while we’re unable to conduct clinics in person.
 
The second adult online clinic is running today, as I write, with Liz Paratz and Will Wilson the cardiologists, ably assisted by the in-country Maluk Timor team.
 
So, despite the constraints, we’re paddling as fast as we can, and to useful purpose.
Having said that, the entire clinical team is desperate to get back to Timor-Leste & do what we do best.

 
Dr Noel Bayley
Honorary Medical Advisor
Building capacity on the ground — echo training for healthcare staff in Timor-Leste

Report from the frontline

Volunteer cardiologist Dr Elizabeth Paratz shares her experiences working with our online clinics, her passion for cardiology and what attracted her to volunteering with ETHF.

What does an online-clinic involve? 
Our online clinics are very different to our ‘on the ground’ clinics. We are so grateful to our partners at Maluk Timor who help with the extensive logistics required to run such a clinic.
 
From approximately one month prior, we are identifying which patients we want to see, updating clinical data and planning the day. Workshops are run planning workflow within limited spaces, testing internet connections and practising the ultrasound skills of the local clinicians. 
 
On the day, we have many staff at both ends. In Timor-Leste, we have an admitting clinician who checks in the patients, takes vital signs and completes a health questionnaire. They then have an ultrasound of their heart performed and the images are sent to us in real-time. We then see them with their treating clinician, +/- an interpreter and a constant IT support person on hand!  
 
What are some of the challenges and / or benefits with the online clinics? 
To start with the benefits, in the last year we have really adapted with zero forewarning to providing remote health, and now run efficient clinics that are really helping to provide ongoing care overseas throughout a pandemic. 
 
However, the biggest challenge of all is the current border controls that have meant we cannot yet bring our patients across for lifesaving cardiac interventions. We are very, very keen to return to providing active cardiac interventions and have a waitlist of patients. 


ETHF Co-founder Dr Noel Bayley and Dr Elizabeth Paratz


What attracted you to become a cardiologist? 
Cardiology as a discipline is an elegant mix of physiology, anatomy and emerging research in genetics and procedures. A lot of cardiac disease is very treatable, with patients returning to live long and productive lives. This is particularly so in the case of our patients in Timor-Leste, most of whom have had excellent outcomes. 
 
Why do you volunteer with ETHF?
I’ve volunteered with ETHF since 2016. Dr Noel Bayley and Dr Louise Creati were my bosses (mentors) in physician and cardiology training and inspired me to get involved. ETHF is a perfect organisation to be involved in as a cardiologist: I am able to assist with my specialist skillset, while appreciating that the organisation is run leanly, efficiently and very productively.  
 
What would you like our supporters to understand about the patients we support? 
Many of our patients have highly treatable cardiac disease that requires a few hours and some financial support to cure, after which they can return to normal life. The average age of our patients is 29 years old, so by restoring them to normal health you give them their whole life back.

Health partner Maluk Timor after a busy ETHF online-clinic last week

Dale survived an horrific cycle accident, now inspired to save others in Timor-Leste

ETHF supporter Dale Hemley's journey is one of strength, compassion and conviction.

Former world endurance event competitor, Dale, headed out on a training ride in along the Great Ocean Road in June 2018 when a driver turned across him on a steep downhill section in front of the Anglesea surf club.
 
Dale woke up in the Alfred trauma centre a week later without his vision and discovered one of his many broken ribs had torn through his left lung and sliced the edge of his heart. A third of his lung was removed. Aside from multiple fractures and torn ligaments throughout his body, he had also survived several strokes. At the time, his future was uncertain.
 
Dale was transported to Epworth rehabilitation in Geelong where he commenced the exhausting and at times excruciating path to recovery. Healing from extensive surgery he endured daily physio while his bones began to mend. His vision only partially returned and he now lives with vision impairment known as hemianopia (half vision).   
 
Like the disciplined ironman Dale was prior to his accident, he committed to improving his health with regular rehab and fitness training. Dale’s vision impairment means he can no longer drive. Dale prefers to describe is impairment  as having ‘unique capability’.

Peaks Challenge 2021 training

Dale’s ‘uniqueness’ has motivated him to attempt the gruelling Peaks Challenge, a 235km cycle ride starting in Falls Creek this Sunday March 7th to raise $5,000 for  East Timor Hearts Fund. 
 
Dale raised funds for East Timor Hearts Fund during his last Peaks Challenge in 2018 before his accident. He views this year’s Peaks Challenge as the launching pad for the next chapter of his life.
 
Dale had the privilege of going to Timor-Leste as a teacher through his school Christian College Geelong. He was struck by the country’s beauty, however found it incredible that a country so close to ours didn’t have some of the basic services we take for granted here.
 
Dale is eternally grateful for the medics who saved his life and now he wants use his passion for cycling to help patients in Timor-Leste access the medical support they need to save their lives too. He sees this opportunity to use his endurance event to help others as a 'gift'.

As the event starts before dawn, Dale will be cheered on by his support crew – his incredible wife Michelle and no.1 fan, 9 month old Lilly.

Dale is enormously grateful to his supporters - Jake at Bike Matters Torquay, and David Williams at Hammer Nutrition Australia, along with generous donors who have already given and touching messages of support received from the community so far.
 
You can support Dale to reach or beat his goal - go to https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/dalesride

Donate now
Thank you for your commitment to saving lives in Timor-Leste
If you would like to volunteer and get involved, head to our website
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