South West Healthcare emergency department plays role in new technology

SAVIOUR: South West Healthcare emergency department nurse unit manager Annette Kelson was part of the team that helped save the life of Jeff Mallen, who presented with a major stroke. Picture: Rob Gunstone
SAVIOUR: South West Healthcare emergency department nurse unit manager Annette Kelson was part of the team that helped save the life of Jeff Mallen, who presented with a major stroke. Picture: Rob Gunstone

THE team behind the delivery of the first practical use of the new Victorian Stroke Telemedicine (VST) program at South West Healthcare included an experienced hand and a member of the emerging generation.

Annette Kelson has worked as a nurse at South West Healthcare for three decades. She has spent the past four years as the nurse unit manager of the emergency department. She was triaging on November 1 when Jeff Mallen came in suffering from a stroke.

Also working was Dr Callum Maggs, a medical registrar.

Despite the difference in experience levels of the two, both knew the significance of Mr Mallen’s treatment.

“(Using the new technology) was pretty exciting. It all went very quickly and smoothly, we were lucky everything lined up,” Ms Kelson said. “The VST makes our job so much easier.

“To know (we are) so far away from Melbourne but to have access to such a highly qualified team is exciting.

“I was blown away. This just proves this technology is exactly what we need.

“The chances of us getting someone from Warrnambool to Melbourne within six hours, let alone someone coming from Portland, were pretty slim before this.” 

Dr Maggs was equally as enthusiastic about being part of the new treatment.

“There are time pressures dealing with strokes and it was pretty obvious that was Jeff’s problem,” Dr Maggs said.

“But it was good to have a centralised system to contact because this clot retrieval is pretty new to us. 

“We know that we can give blood thinners straight away but sometimes they are not very effective with strokes.

“But now these guys can go in and pull the clot out it’s a different story.

“For me, as a medical registrar, it was pretty exciting stuff to be involved in.

“It is something that I’m sure will save a lot more lives into the future.”