Karen Bryant: Northern Hospital
Karen offers Indigenous hospital patients a gentle guiding hand
When Indigenous patients and their families need help making their way around Epping’s Northern Hospital, Karen Bryant is the person they turn to for cultural support.
As Senior Aboriginal Hospital Liaison Officer at the hospital, Karen provides assistance with admissions and navigating the complex health system.
“I work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients to offer a range of culturally appropriate support and advocacy to improve the patient journey,” she says.
A tireless worker, Karen is also there to support Indigenous families during points of crisis such as family violence.
She ensures her clients have access to community services and programs to support and maintain their health after leaving the hospital and also gives support with emotionally difficult processes such as end-of-life planning.
“At times of crisis, people are overwhelmed and not thinking straight, but we help by approaching every situation in a positive manner and breaking issues down so they can be tackled one piece at a time,” Karen says.
But Karen’s work at the hospital is just the beginning of her contribution. She’s also a longstanding member of the local Aboriginal Reconciliation Group and spends countless hours educating the broader community and health systems about Aboriginal culture.
“The cultural training allows our mob to express diversity and gives the doctors and nurses some practical tips about communicating and engaging with Aboriginal people,” she says.
Karen says she is extremely humbled and excited to be voted a Westfield Local Hero by her community.
“This gives me another incentive to keep striving for the best health outcomes for my patients and it is great to be valued by my peers,” she says.
Northern Hospital will use its $10,000 Westfield grant to buy essential items for Indigenous patients in need. This will include toothpaste, toothbrushes, nappies, non-perishable food and clothing.
It will also fund artwork to create a culturally-appropriate and welcoming environment for Indigenous patients at Northern Hospital.