Changing the lives of young oral health patients
While they work behind the scenes Children’s Oral Health Nurses Samantha Wacker and Heidi Virtanen are making a significant difference to young people’s lives
Metro North Child and Adolescent Oral Health Services and Specialist Services nursing team Samantha Wacker and Heidi Virtanen are part of a highly specialised and dedicated oral health team for children.
The team is made up of highly trained orthodontists, specialist dentists and dental assistants at Queensland Children’s Hospital in partnership with Metro North Health.
“We care for some of the most medically complex, critically unwell and often challenging to manage children,” Samantha said.
“The only place these children can be seen and cared for is in the Children’s Hospital under general anaesthetic.
“We see how important the treatment is – see how much their oral health condition is impacting their lives, health and wellbeing.”
Each year, more than 4,500 children require corrective dental care for cleft lip conditions, for treatment for cranial facial trauma and other complex conditions through the Metro North Oral Health Service.
As part of their roles, Samantha and Heidi also coordinate the theatre lists and access for children and help families navigate hospital and community oral health, and broader care settings.
Both nurses clearly love their jobs caring for young people but highlight the need to gain as much experiences as possible and to focus on work life balance.
Samantha Wacker and Heidi Virtanen were recently recognised for their ability to deliver excellent patient centred care as the Values in Action winner of the Community and Oral Staff Excellence Awards.
In addition, each year the Metro North Oral Health Service 15,156 children received treatment across our Child and Adolescent Oral Health Services and Specialist services.