A range of local artists contributed works for the new Lismore Base Hospital Paediatric Unit that was officially opened on 8 September. Pictured with NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard (rear) and State MP for Lismore Thomas George (right) were (l-r) Joanna Kambourian, Erica Gully, Beki Davies, Jeremy Austin, Jeni Binns, Dougal Binns, Malcom Austin, and Anne-Marie Mason. At the front is Dr Sniggle of the Clown Doctors.Other artists (not pictured) were Justin Livingston and Rachel Stone.

With features such as bright play areas, a parents’ lounge and an adolescent retreat, Lismore Base Hospital’s new Paediatric Unit focuses on creating a visually appealing environment to complement its acknowledged high level of clinical care.

The unit, opened by visiting NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Friday 8 September, is part of LBH’s remarkable redevelopment in the past few years.

Helping celebrate the latest milestone was Lismore MP Thomas George, who will step down before the next state election in March 2019. There is no doubt he will be going out on a high note, with the once-outdated facility rapidly becoming a state-of-the-art referral hospital.

And don't tell me what to do
Don't tell me what to say
And please, when I go round with you
Don't put me on display 'cause

You don't own me
Don't try to change me in any way
You don't own me
Don't tie me down 'cause I'd never stay

You Don’t Own Me 1963, Lesley Gore

Vaccination for Contrarians

The Social Services Legislation Amendment (No Jab, No Pay) Bill of 2015 has brought about an increase in childhood vaccination rates around the country and also on the North Coast. The essence of the Amendment was to remove conscientious objection to vaccination as an exemption from the requirement of children to be fully age appropriate vaccinated to be eligible for child care subsidies and Family Tax Benefit A.

Vaccination rates have risen to 93% nationally and are approaching the 95% level recommended for herd immunity. All Primary Health Networks (PHNs) reported rates of greater than 90%. However, rates can vary widely within PHNs and in this issue we report  on the 1867 North Coast kids who are unimmunised. Recent Department of Health Data have shown shown that less than 50% of Mullumbimby two year olds are fully vaccinated; the lowest in the country.

To improve the levels and to counter last year’s anti-vaccination film, Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe, the Department of Health has launched a 5.5 million dollar campaign targeting areas of low vaccination.

Dr Jane Barker

By definition chronic diseases are diseases we cannot cure and at best can attempt to control symptoms and delay complications and progress. The care of patients with chronic diseases is consuming increasing general practice hours. They contribute to 60% of deaths globally and this figure is increasing on an international scale. It has been estimated that if the current trend persists, diabetes alone could consume the entire health care budget of western nations.

While much of our population lives longer they do not necessarily live with optimal health, being limited by their physicality, their pain, the psychological reaction to their problems and by current management itself.
Finding ways to effectively and efficiently prevent, manage and potentially cure these diseases is the challenge for the new generation of clinicians.

Blue Crowned Motmot bird

Think again if you imagine this Central American nation to be another lawless hellhole awash in drugs.The people of Costa Rica (‘Rich Coast’), known as ‘Ticos’, live by the code of Pura Vida, an infectious mixture of “no worries” and “stay cool”, which results in a cohesive society full of optimism.

It has had public schools for all since the 1880s, free healthcare and civilised labour laws, major drivers of this wonderful place.
My wife, my sister-in-law and I joined nine others on a two-week tour through the country with our guide Xander and his trusty sidekick Pappy piloting the bus. For those readers of a certain age, these two were very reminiscent of Pancho and the Cisco Kid.

San Jose the capital sits in the elevated Central Valley surrounded by active volcanoes. After the spectacular flight in, we found the main road into the city was being repaired so our taxi driver took us by the ‘scenic’ route, a bit daunting, with dusty shanties and much barbed wire.

The Bright Hour

A Memoir of Living and Dying

Nina Riggs

Text 310pp $29.99

The last three books to hit my desk from Melbourne based Text Publishing have concerned living and dying, two of them by female authors, one Australian (Cory Taylor), the other American (Nina Riggs), who both passed on soon after completing their manuscripts.

The third, Thirty Days - A Journey to the End of Love, is by Jewish-Australian author Mark Raphael Baker (The Fiftieth Gate) who has written beautifully about his relationship with wife Kerryn and her death of a rare bowel cancer relatively soon after diagnosis.

It took just thirty days, the prescribed Jewish mourning period for a spouse, for him to complete the memoir of a married life that had consumed three happy decades of the couple’s life. His earlier book, an account of his parents’ Holocaust experiences, had taken many years to complete.