When 35-year-old mother-of-two Jenny Sheenan lost 134 kilos after lap band surgery, she was left with an uncomfortable and expensive new problem. The former obesity sufferer needed more surgery to remove the excess skin formed due to her dramatic weight loss, but couldn’t stretch the family budget far enough to cover out-of-pocket costs of the procedure, in spite of having full private heath cover.
Associate Professor Anand Deva is heading the new MQ Health Access Program.
Enter Associate Professor Anand Deva, Head of the Discipline of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at MQ Health, who performed the operation at a substantially reduced cost as part of a new philanthropic program aimed at patients on a tight budget.
As the first person to undergo an operation under the new MQ Health Access Program, Ms Sheehan says the procedure changed her life.
“Being part of the Access Program means more than I will ever be able to express,” says Ms Sheehan. “It has given me the chance to finish my weight loss journey and improve my quality of life.
“I would like to thank Associate Professor Deva from the bottom of my heart for his generosity.”
The program will initially focus on two procedures – breast reduction and post weight-loss reconstruction.
While not life-threatening, the two conditions can have devastating physical, emotional and psychological consequences for patients if left untreated, Deva says. The hospital plans to add other procedures including bariatric surgery - sometimes known as gastric banding - in the near future.
Ms Sheehan's case is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to high-cost health-care services remaining out of reach for low-income earners, according to Deva.
“Her case is indicative of the thousands of Australians like her who, having been unable to access a treatment or service through the public system, face having to meet the costs of tens of thousands of dollars even though they have private health cover,” Deva says.
“Australia needs new paradigms for delivering health care.
“The Access Program aims to alleviate some of the current stresses on the system in the private health sector by offering a limited number of affordable procedures every year for patients who have gone through a selection process.”