For Deborah McAdam, nursing is a life-long dream realised and that passion has been acknowledged with this year’s WA Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Award for Aboriginal Health.
Ms McAdam knew she would be a nurse from just six years old, when in a medical emergency she was flown from a cattle station to Wyndham Hospital.
“There was a nurse there named Ann who made me feel so comfortable, she tucked me in at night and was there in the morning,” Ms McAdam said.
“It was then that mustard seed was planted, I knew I wanted to become like her one day.”
After 14 years of nursing, it was her past year of breaking down barriers in the public health system for Aboriginal people with chronic disease to access free medication that drew the state accolade.
Ms McAdam believes to make the change “you’ve got to be the change yourself ”.
“Above the 26th parallel Aboriginal people get medications for free as part of the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme, whereas below the 26th parallel you have to do it for yourself,” she said.
“When people are admitted to the hospital it is very difficult for people to get cheaper medications.”
Ms McAdam recognised Closing The Gap scripts which allow Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living with, or at risk of, chronic disease access to free medication as a possible way to achieve her goal.
“In the hospital system people with chronic illness have to pay the full price for scripts because the CTG scripts are only aimed at private GPs and Aboriginal medical services,” she said.
“What I’m trying to push, and I’m still working at it, is to see if Geraldton Hospital doctors can write out the scripts and access free medication.
“The ultimate goal is to get Closing The Gap scripts into the publichealth system, so people don’t go home and can’t afford to fill the script for the treatment they need.”
Ms McAdam said she would like to thank the Excellence Award sponsors and Geraldton Hospital’s nursing and midwifery coordinator Derek Fraser for taking the time to nominate her for the award.
Mr Fraser said he was aware of the good work Ms McAdam was doing in supporting students and helping Aboriginal people get access to discharge medications.
“I’m chuffed,” he said of Ms McAdam winning the award.
“Deb took a big broad brush approach to work within the system to help Aboriginal people maintain wellness — she plugged away at it and bit a chunk off of what she could achieve. Deb negotiates to get rid of the barriers for getting medication and she’s enabling better health outcomes.”
Ms McAdam said she was living a dream.
“I’ve never worked a day in my life since starting nursing, I’ve been living my dream. It’s who I am.”