Lisa Yates is an Aboriginal woman from Northern Queensland. She grew up as a ward of the State and recalls many hard years of institutional care and living in various foster homes.
In 2007, Lisa was referred to The Royal Dental Hospital of Melbourne (RDHM) from Bunurong Health Service, an Aboriginal specific service provider. Her referral was initiated by Di Gougon, a mental health outreach worker.
At the time Lisa was experiencing personal trauma, she had miscarried two pregnancies and her father had passed away. She was consequently admitted to hospital for both physical and mental health treatment and as a result, she didn’t follow through with dental treatment at RDHM.
In March 2010, Lisa was re-referred to the Hospital. The DHSV Aboriginal Liaison Officer was contacted by Di Gougon to offer patient support and to assist Lisa with getting to and from appointments, but Lisa was reluctant to get treatment.
“I was really scared to come to the hospital at first. I thought people would judge me because my teeth had been neglected. But I was in pain because I had abscesses and I couldn’t take pain medication because of other health issues,” Lisa says.
With the encouragement and support of Di and the staff at RDHM, Lisa accepted that she needed to see a dental professional.
Unfortunately due to her trauma and many years of substance abuse, her teeth were not in a good state.
“They needed to take a lot of teeth out, so I was sent to the Oral Surgery Department for an anaesthetic,” she says.
Lisa was admitted for oral surgery in April 2010. DHSV supplied her with taxi vouchers so she could get to and from the hospital and Lisa felt supported by the RDHM staff.
When her teeth were extracted, Lisa found it hard to adjust to eating a soft diet and her self esteem was low. She has since attended her final appointments in the General Practice Department at RDHM and had dentures fitted.
“I am looking forward to having a more fulfilling and happier life. I am so grateful to all the staff at RDHM, especially Mr Roche. He has been so good to me.”
Last updated: 2013-08-13