Cofounder of the Street Doctor Dr Adel El-mezin shares his passion for helping vulnerable people and how it began a four-year journey across southeast Queensland.
Dr Adel El-mezin and the rest of the Street Doctor Team are passionate about health, and their free service is becoming increasingly popular among local residents living in the Brisbane South PHN area.
The Street Doctor was founded in 2013 and has been commissioned by Brisbane South PHN and, prior to this, the former Greater Metro South Brisbane Medicare Local for most of this time. Since then many locals have come to know the service and are now happy to stop and have a confidential chat with Dr El-mezin.
“Almost everyone in the area comes and talks to us now, they do not feel shy. We have a private office where they can sit down and talk,” Dr El-mezin said.
The Street Doctor has three vans travelling throughout the Brisbane South area, and has helped reduce the burden on the public health system by minimising the need for locals to be transported by ambulance to the emergency department for routine treatments.
“There were a lot of unnecessary ambulance calls for people who are homeless and we have managed to prevent many of them. We see a lot of minor injuries like trauma, bruises or infection which used to go to the hospital straight away by ambulance,” Dr El-mezin said.
“I once saw a very young man aged between 14 and 16 years old at Logan Central’s Woodridge Train Station who said he had a sore on his leg for a few weeks, and had covered the wound with a plastic bag. When I removed the bag I discovered it was full of maggots. Without treatment he would have had to have his leg amputated, but we managed to treat his leg just in time.”
Dr El-mezin and his daughter, Emane, first came up with the idea to establish a mobile and after-hours health service seven years ago when they ran ‘bricks and mortar’ medical clinics in Logan Central, Underwood and Mt Gravatt.
“Back in 2010 we had homeless patients come to the clinic and they were not presenting early enough and had complications. Because they were not diagnosed or treated early, I felt we needed to have a mobile health service,” Dr El-mezin said.
“I thought about going out to where we can reach them in their normal environment and provide services to have a regular GP who they can talk to about their illnesses and prescribe medication.”
Dr El-mezin was born in Egypt and first arrived in Australia during 1985, after having worked as a GP for nine years and also as Board Member of Goroka Hospital in Papua New Guinea.