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Quakes Can't Shake Nurses' Resolve

Quakes Can't Shake Nurses' Resolve

The earthquakes that hit New Zealand's south island during 2011 reduced many of Christchurch's vital healthcare services to rubble, or their offices were declared no-go zones.

The Hepatitis C Community Clinic (HCCC), a nurse-led service established in 2009, had its building so badly shaken it was later demolished.

Patients faced an array of new - and literal - roadblocks to accessing healthcare.

"In the aftermath of the earthquakes, clients of the HCCC have encountered road and transport limitations, four changes in location and fragmented pathways to other services," the 8th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference will be told.

"Despite a drop off in client numbers immediately following the major earthquakes, there has subsequently been a consistent growth in new clients."

The clinic reestablished its services as the city cleaned itself up. It now has more than 680 clients on its books, around 270 of them actively involved in treatment and support programs.

The disaster's impact on the clinic, and its clients, is detailed in a paper to be presented at the conference on Monday.

"The HCCC has improved access to hepatitis C healthcare despite the impact of a major disaster... Clients and staff have shown resilience in the face of disaster to achieve that," the authors said.

This research comes as leading health experts from the Viral Hepatitis Conference warn that rates of liver cancer will soar if immediate action isn't taken to address hepatitis B and hepatitis C. The Auckland Statement, backed by leading virologists, clinicians and community groups and issued by the conference itself, has at its core an ambitious goal to halve the rate of new hepatitis C infections by 2016.

The 8th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference will be held at Auckland's Skycity hotel, New Zealand, from September 10-12. Media are invited to attend to interview speakers, or phone interviews can be arranged.

"Shaken Not Deterred: The Christchurch Hepatitis C Community Clinic"
Paper No: 9
Day: Monday
Room: New Zealand 3
Time: 2.30pm - 2.45pm

For more information contact Petrana Lorenz at petrana.lorenz@ashm.org.au or visit:
www.hepatitis.org.au
www.aucklandstatement.com

ENDS

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