Jonathan O'Loan: Hep C Kombi Clinic
Colourful Dr Joss uses novel way to cure a serious disease
With his big smile, pink Hawaiian shirt and classic 1978 Kombi van, Dr Jonathan “Joss” O’Loan brings a fun approach towards tackling a serious issue.
Concerned about the rate of Hepatitis C in his suburb, the Inala GP decided to hit the streets and bring his medical practice to the drug rehab centres and rough sleeping locations where it is needed most.
“We decided it had to be a Kombi because it is such an iconic vehicle,” says Joss.
“Not only does it have the room to carry all our medical equipment, but people are always coming up to ask us about the Kombi and then we’ll use that conversation as an opportunity to talk about Hep C.”
Hep C is a serious ongoing illness that is a leading cause of liver cancer. With the help of his van, Joss has been able to reach patients with new medicines that can cure up to 97% of patients.
“With the advent of these new drugs, the hard part is no longer the cure, it is getting the treatment in the hands of the right patients,” says Joss.
Since starting the charity last June, he and colleague Dr Matt Young have been able to help 300 patients in Inala get on the road to recovery.
“This is a huge change in these people’s lives because many of them were told they would have Hep C for the rest of their lives and all the stigma that comes with it. But now they are free,” he says.
Joss says he is “very, very chuffed” to be voted a Westfield Local Hero for his pioneering work, but he is now planning bigger projects to help more people get treatment for Hep C.
Hep C Kombi Clinic will put its $10,000 Westfield Local Heroes grant towards developing mass screenings for Hep C at music festivals and sporting events, with the bold goal of eliminating the disease from Australia.