Case study: Teamwork ensures more babies protected from preventable diseases

Practice Nurse Sue Stevenson with mum Tyler Barrett and her baby Nadia Barrett- Thomas
Practice Nurse Sue Stevenson with mum Tyler Barrett and her baby Nadia Barrett- Thomas

First time mum Tyler Barrett always knew she would get her baby immunised.

‘My mum suffers from hearing loss.  Her Mum caught rubella when she was pregnant.  I didn’t want to take that risk with my little girl, Nadia,’ says the 18 year old Mum.

Tyler’s midwife informed her about immunisation before Nadia was born.

‘I was already keen for my daughter to have all those childhood immunisations, and of course my Mum was all for it too.’

‘I remember when a friend’s baby got the rotavirus and got so sick he had to be hospitalised.  When I heard that the rotavirus vaccine was on the immunisation list for babies, I thought yes she’s going to have that,’ says Tyler.

Baby Nadia who is now just over seven months old, had her primary course of immunisations on time (six weeks, three and five months) at the Tasman Medical Centre. Practice Nurse Sue Stevenson did them all.

Having everyone in the medical practice focused on immunisation, including reception staff has paid off for Tasman Medical Centre in Nelson.

In the three months to 31 December 2014, the medical centre which has more than 6000 patients, including about 370 under the age of five, achieved 100 percent immunisation coverage for babies aged eight months.

Practice Nurse Sue Stevenson puts the result down to good old fashioned teamwork.

‘Everyone’s on board with getting our enrolled children immunised on time.  The doctors, nurses and our reception staff are all on alert.

‘There have been a few occasions when patients have come in for something else and our reception staff picked up while they were in the waiting room that they had missed their immunisation.  They inform our nursing staff and often those children are immunised on that visit.’

Sue says it helps that the reception staff work closely with the nurses and go through the recall lists each week and ring and book children in for their immunisations.

‘That team approach, where everyone has a role to play, and is doing their bit really makes a   big difference.  We’re all striving towards the same goal.’

Sue says checking the basic contact details for families each time they come into the practice is also very important.

‘It only takes a minute to check the contact details, but that minute can save lots of time down the track when we’re doing follow up calls or reminding parents that their baby’s three or five month immunisations are due.’

The Tasman Medical Centre has a team of five nurses all equipped to do vaccinations.

‘We give families the option of having the same nurse do the primary course of immunisations (six weeks, three and five months).

The medical centre also has a late clinic once a week, to catch those working parents who can’t bring their children in for their immunisations in standard working hours.

‘Feedback from our working families about the late clinic has been really positive. It makes it easy for Mum or Dad to bring baby in while the other looks after the older siblings at home.  They don’t need to take time off work and it improves the chances of the baby being immunised on time,’ says Sue.

Keeping track of babies who are overdue for their immunisations is an ongoing methodical task.

An alert flashes up on the medical centre’s computer system when a child is overdue. Reception staff do a weekly download of this list and phone parents to book their babies in. The National Immunisation Register is also updated.  If staff can’t track them down after trying on three separate occasions, the case is referred to the PHO’s Immunisation Outreach Service.

‘To achieve the best immunisation coverage for our babies, we need to link up in a timely way to those resources outside our medical centre.  That’s how we connect to those hard to reach families. The teamwork extends beyond our medical centre and it is vital.’

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