Ear doc David is here to help our kids
"HI. I'M David. I'm an ear, nose and throat specialist. I do lots of work with indigenous kids. Is there anything I can to do help?"
Hearing screenings had found problems in up to a quarter of local indigenous kids when Doctor David McIntosh rocked into the North Coast Aboriginal Corporation for Community Health office at Maroochydore.
NCACCH general manager Kim Helmore and others had realised they had a significant health issue on their hands, and no answer, when a solution walked in the door.
Five years later, Dr McIntosh is part-way through surgeries on a third round of school-aged kids referred by NCACCH.
About 40 children have already undergone procedures in two previous rounds and 24 will have surgery this time.
The surgeries are made possible through good hearts and whatever funding NCACCH and Dr McIntosh can scrounge up.
He and anaesthetist Dr David Bertholini donate their time and Ramsay Health provides hospital facilities at cost.
Dr McIntosh said government funding of $40,000 would cover 17 of the surgeries in the current round.
Three children underwent procedures on Thursday, the day after funding was approved, and more will have surgery next Saturday.
Ms Helmore said the surgeries made almost immediate difference to the children who often struggled at school because they could not hear properly
"Almost a week after the first round of surgeries, a mother wrote to us," Ms Helmore said.
"She said, 'Thank you very much. My daughter just got an award from school for most improved student'."
Dr McIntosh said antibiotics were sometimes enough to clear up an ear infection but children sometimes needed grommets inserted or their tonsils or adenoids removed.
He said the public health system was a safety net but it was a "long drop" and it made sense to him to provide help.
"I've got the knowledge, I've got the skills, we've got the infrastructure and the programs," he said.
He hopes to obtain more government funding to continue providing the services..
But his dream is to find a corporate sponsor who can back the rollout of similar work in other areas.
"The engine works beautifully, the problem is that it needs petrol," he said.
Regardless, he said he would continuing doing his bit
"You can't save the world but you can try and make it a better place."