Drug Health unit makes move into Campbelltown Hospital

Dedicated: General manager of Drug Health Stephanie Hocking, Acting Operations Nurse Manager Wanda Brabender, Clinical Nurse Consultant Kylie Stohlzenhein and Acting Nurse Unit Manager Moira Wood. Picture: Jess Layt
Dedicated: General manager of Drug Health Stephanie Hocking, Acting Operations Nurse Manager Wanda Brabender, Clinical Nurse Consultant Kylie Stohlzenhein and Acting Nurse Unit Manager Moira Wood. Picture: Jess Layt

A dedicated team of medical professionals spend every day changing lives and challenging stigmas at Campbelltown Hospital's new Drug Health Services unit.

The unit became the first service to move into a new purpose-built premises last month as part of the hospital's $632 million redevelopment.

The staff help more than 200 people each day through opiate treatment replacement programs (providing substitutes for illicit and prescribed drugs, like heroin and codeine), counselling and intervention services.

Drug Health general manager Stephanie Hocking said one of the team's biggest goals was to change the oftentimes incorrect public perception of their unit.

"Everybody has a story - bad things can happen to nice people and that doesn't mean they're bad people," she said.

"I think the general public can tend to focus on that very, very small percentage of the people that we see, who are regular offenders and who lead lives that we would probably judge.

"But drug and alcohol use doesn't actually discriminate. We've seen lawyers, doctors, health professionals, as well as other professionals within the community coming through our doors.

"It's about working with everybody to help them to challenge their own judgements and accept that people are people."

Drug Health was previously located outside of the main hospital building, in Cooper's Cottage on the nearby hill.

Staff said they had already seen a massive difference in patients following their move into the hospital itself.

"Cooper's Cottage on the hill was more than 30 years old, quite oppressive, dark and separate from our hospital," Ms Hocking said. "After the move, you could see the change in our clients. They felt valued and couldn't believe this beautiful new environment was for them.

"I think often our clients aren't treated the way we would treat someone who doesn't use substances, and being integrated into the hospital like any other patient helps them to feel valued. They're here for a health issue just like anyone else."

Part of the new "state-of-the-art" facilities include expanded consultation rooms and 'idose' technology.

The new tech takes photos of clients' irises as a form of identification and automatically dispenses their required dose of medication.

The staff are encouraging anyone in the community with drug dependency issues to "find the help they need" at the Drug Health unit.

Learn more - Drug Health Services: 9616 8586 (8.30-4.30, Mon-Fri), Alcohol and Other Drugs Information Service: 1800 422 599 (24 hours), Family Drug Support: 1300 368 186 (24 hours).