Giancarlo Di Stefano is a community health nurse at cohealth Innerspace in Collingwood, where he provides specialist health care to people who use drugs. His work allows him to engage with a person about a very specific health issue and then extend that care to meet other related needs.
He recently started using a vein finder in his work. Vein finders are non-invasive hand-held devices that are used to locate hard-to-find veins for blood sampling and other procedures.
They also have other less obvious benefits, like easing client anxiety and building connections with people who are less likely to engage in healthcare services.
Giancarlo’s client – an injecting drug user in her 40s, avoided blood tests for over 10 years. She felt anxious that a vein would not be found and feared that the process would leave her bruised and bleeding.
Although the client was sceptical about the device, she was over the moon when Giancarlo was successfully able to find a vein and take bloods.
“She can now potentially commence treatment based on what the lab results show,” says Giancarlo. “And she is now more open to coming back for blood work and other care in the future.”
Anxiety about getting a blood test is not uncommon. Many clients, especially those who have blood-borne viruses or are sleeping rough, are reluctant to go to pathology.
They come to cohealth Innerspace because the service is confidential, friendly and welcoming. Clients who inject drugs are able to access sterile injecting equipment and harm-reduction education. At the drop-in-space they can also use the shower, toilet, laundry, computer and phone.
Find out more information about cohealth’s Drug and Alcohol services.