A program between Grampians Community Health and Stawell Regional Health has made a huge difference in the lives of people living with chronic disease, and recently for one man, this has literally saved a life.

The ‘Take Action Nurse’ is a program for people with some kind of chronic illness, such as diabetes, musculoskeletal problem, cardiovascular or pulmonary disease. This program is funded by the WestVic Primary Health Network with the intention of putting people in control of their illness and avoiding preventable hospital admissions.

“The Take Action Nurse program provides such a great opportunity for people to learn how to take action about their health”, said Kathy Day, General Manager at Grampians Community Health.

In 2018-19, Grampians Community Health had almost 100 people joining this program, this equates to around 500 sessions with practical information and follow-up sessions with Sue Fontana, the ‘Take Action Nurse’.

Recently, Sue Fontana received a wonderful phone call from Kevin who she had seen as part of the TAN program.

“Just letting you know I am at the Royal Melbourne Hospital waiting on open-heart surgery. If I make it through you would have saved my life. And if I don’t make it you gave me a chance. I don’t know what to say to you but thanks and that doesn’t seem enough –god bless and hope to see you in the near future,” said Kevin.

Kevin had been seeing the Take Action Nurse when he was asked by Sue if he had any other questions and he mentioned that he had pain in his jaw and down his arms and tightness across his chest on a few times that week.

“I immediately accompanied him to see a GP and he was referred directly to the hospital for follow up,” said Sue Fontana.

By the end of August the client contacted Sue once again, he was overwhelmed with gratitude. “He said that by all the reports he would not have lived until his next GP appointment in September after tests indicated he had a 90% heart blockage and needed immediate surgery,” said Sue Fontana

Rhys Duncan, Director of Primary and Community Care with Stawell Regional Health said the partnership was a fantastic program that continues to provide real outcomes for our community.

“Living with a chronic illness is often daunting so we are really pleased that this partnership is providing people with support that builds their capacity to be in control of their lives,” said Rhys Duncan.

“We have seen that after a few sessions, many clients feel confident and are able to manage their conditions on their own, knowing Stawell Regional Health and Grampians Community Health are there to fall back on if they need it,” added Rhys Duncan.

People wanting to access the Take Action Nurse can contact Grampians Community Health on (03)53587400, or talk to their GP about services available to them.