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.