A dedicated Dubbo nurse, who is passionate about raising awareness and decreasing the stigma associated with Hepatitis B and C was recently recognised for her outstanding work within the sector.
Registered Nurse at the Dubbo Community Health Liver Clinic, Gail Snelgar, has led the development of hepatitis services in Western NSW.
In November, Ms Snelgar won the Hepatitis NSW 2018 Cheryl Burman Award, which acknowledges outstanding work or achievements by an individual or team within the viral hepatitis sector.
Ms Snelgar has been working as an RN at the Dubbo Clinic for eight years and said she felt like she’d already won the award upon hearing she’d been nominated.
“It’s very humbling. What can one say? It’s the most humbling experience,” she said.
Ms Snelgar, together with her team, look after the entire Western NSW area, which encompasses Dubbo to Bathurst out to Bourke and Cobar.
She acknowledged her award win because of working with an amazing team including the admin staff at the Clinic, her colleagues in regional community health and Aboriginal Medical Heath Services.
“This award, as much as it’s got my name on it, really and truly is an award for a huge team effort and also the fact that we’re backed up by the amazing team in Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Gastroenterology,” Ms Snelgar said.
We’ve also had two amazing specialists come out here once a month for seven years and provide services along with one of our local specialists.”
Ms Snelgar also acknowledged the work of the pharmacy at the Dubbo Base Hospital.
“It’s my name on there but… it’s also all those people who actually provided support,” she said.
The entire goal is to raise awareness for testing and treatment for Hepatitis C and B in the entire Western NSW area, as Ms Snelgar said there are many people who aren’t even aware they have it.
“Often they have no idea they’ve got it and we’ve really been focusing on trying to life awareness for testing but also decrease the stigma of actually having it,” she said.
Ms Snelgar said people have a preconceived idea of people who have Hepatitis B and C.
She said anyone who has had backyard tattoos, is over the age of 50, as well as anyone who potentially went overseas and had a procedure done without being immunized beforehand.
“People over 50, if they’ve had a misspent youth and in that period they may have done things that they won’t talk about today, but they most likely need testing. We need to break that stigma down,” she said.
There are easy, simple treatments available for both both viral infections, and Hepatitis C can be cured, Ms Snelgar said.
“We’ve really got to encourage people to go and get tested. It’s a quick blood test, if you’re feeling a bit run down, a bit tired and the doctor sends you off for a blood test just ask them to add those on (to the blood request) because the last thing we want is people coming down with cirrhosis ,” she said.