Respected Elder overcomes fear of healthcare system

Uncle Rodney shares his positive experience

Uncle Rodney sharing his positive experience with A&TSILT staff members a few months after discharge from hospital

When Pastor Uncle Rodney Minniecon, a Gurang Gurang and Kabi Kabi man from Bundaberg Queensland, travelled to Brisbane as a Minister, he fell severely unwell for the first time in over 60 years. Living in a small town in Cairns called Deeral, Uncle Rodney had limited knowledge and exposure of the healthcare system. A fear of hospitals deterred Uncle Rodney from accessing the medical care he urgently needed, and he tried everything in his power to avoid a trip to the hospital.

“I was scared of the hospital. I was scared of needles and scared of the nurses. If I got sick, I tried my hardest to cure myself,” said Uncle Rodney.

At 78 years young, Uncle Rodney became so unwell that a trip to the hospital could no longer be avoided. The pain Uncle Rodney was experiencing was so severe that he wasn’t able to attend church as he normally would, so he rang his daughter Kim, and asked her to take him to the hospital.

Fortunately for Uncle Rodney, his daughter Kim worked for Metro North Health, at the time positioned within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership Team, and was able to provide Uncle Rodney with reassurance that he would be safe and taken care of in the hospital.

Uncle Rodney receiving fantastic care at TPCH

Uncle Rodney receiving fantastic care at TPCH in late 2022

Upon arrival at The Prince Charles Hospital (TPCH) Emergency Department, Uncle Rodney was admitted right away, with his daughter Kim still close by his side. The fear that Uncle Rodney once had of hospitals and healthcare staff quickly disappeared thanks to the kind, patient, and gentle care he received by staff at TPCH.

“I felt instantly that a lot of the fear had left me. They fussed over me a bit, and the way I was treated, I felt like I was treated like somebody very special,” said Uncle Rodney.

Attending ongoing appointments to monitor his health, Uncle Rodney now has a lot of confidence when attending the hospital thanks to the care he received from staff, and his daughter Kim, who helps coordinate his appointments, ensures he gets there safely and offers to stay by his side when needed.

What initially felt like bad news, having to attend hospital, soon turned into a positive and joyous experience for Uncle Rodney, who now has the confidence to seek medical care and engage with healthcare professionals.

“When they were going to release me from hospital, I didn’t want to come home. I asked them ‘can I stay another night’?” said Uncle Rodney.

By sharing his positive experience, Uncle Rodney hopes to encourage other Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly men, to seek the medical care they need.

“I can recommend to any of the old fullas, don’t be afraid of the hospitals. I know that some things did happen in the past, but this hospital is one hospital that took all the fear out of me and gave me a lot of confidence in the medical system,” said Uncle Rodney.

Uncle Rodney would like to thank the staff at The Prince Charles Hospital, and all Metro North Health staff, for the kindness they showed him, and for making him feel safe and cared for.

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