Significantly improving the immunisation rates in her local community has been the highlight of a nursing career for Gillian Hermosilla-Silva.
Named a finalist in the 2016 HESTA Australian Nursing Awards, the Griffith University Bachelor of Nursing graduate says she was ‘delighted and overwhelmed’ to have her efforts recognised in coordinating an immunisation outreach service for Logan City Council.
“We already knew that Logan has a very diverse socio-economic population and that there seemed to be issues with people getting immunised or getting them done in a timely manner,” says Gillian.
“When we made enquiries we noticed that there were patterns emerging showing how factors such as transport difficulties and childcare issues were proving problematic in parents getting their children to immunisation appointments.
“There is a general consensus that immunisations are important, but given that there was always going to be obstacles in the way for some people, I realised that the immunisations needed to be brought to them.”
It was in 2013, that Gillian set about organising a schedule of home-based appointments for people within the local community for whom visiting the clinics presented a problem.
“Predominantly our service is aimed at babies and children with the usual round of vaccinations such as whooping cough, diphtheria and MMR,” she says.
“At the moment, statistics indicate a rise in the cases of whooping cough, so exposing unprotected vulnerable children to the infection is something we really want to avoid.
“We do also see quite a few children who are placed within the Department of Child Safety; there is really a very wide range of need out there in the community.
“We also see a number of adult patients with various complications such as being on home oxygen and who may be at high risk of influenza. These people are also very important to us, in regard to vaccinating to support their health and for the benefit of the wider community.”
Gillian says that the two day a week service has been extremely well received by the public, which has seen over 4000 people and provided over 7000 vaccines.
Currently 93% of children aged 12mth – <15 months are fully vaccinated which is slightly above the QLD average of 92.7%.
“I now have a team of 20 nurses that cover the service and visit approximately 10 homes per day with up to 4-5 children in each, so it’s going well,” she says.
“12 years ago, when I graduated from Griffith, I would never have dreamed I would have won an award for a mobile immunisations service, but it’s been a fantastic journey mainly within women’s and children’s health.
“The Griffith program set me up for a great career with so many options.”