I had the pleasure of accompanying Dr Adrian Sheen and his wife Suzy in their work along the Coral Coast for two weeks at the start of 2018. While with them I began to appreciate how healthcare transcends the hospital and even the health centres and pervades every aspect of the community and individual. The Sheen’s seem all too aware of this and made great efforts to be sure to share a meal or a bowl of Kava with many of the friends they’ve made over their years of work here.
Our main activity was a number of screening clinics we performed in a few villages and for the staff of some big resorts along the coast. The importance of taking healthcare to the people rather than waiting for them to present was made clear. We were able to identify significant disease and risk in people previously unaware of including diabetes, hypertension, obesity and many specific illnesses that people had not thought to go to a doctor for.
The success of these clinics is definitely related to the continuity of Dr Sheen’s care. His relationships with local doctors, nurses and community leaders affords him access to large patient numbers and they remember him from previous visits. This factor was so important in encouraging people who might otherwise avoid healthcare to come to be seen.
Adrian and Suzy Sheen teach by example, they recognise the importance of engaging with people at multiple levels from hospital care right down to family dinner tables. My time in Fiji was eye-opening in so many ways; medical, cultural and personal. I thank the Sheens for my time with them and for their ongoing work.