The Journey of a Child Referred to COMMSSA for treatment in Perth
Once a child has been accepted for treatment in Perth, SACIM in Mauritius usually arranges payment for the airfare. COMMSSA is responsible for all expenses relating to the child’s treatment, as well as board and lodging in Perth. Upon arrival, the child - often accompanied by a parent - is met by a host family. The child stays with one or more host families who, with the help of other volunteers, provide support before surgery, during the child’s hospital stay and for the duration of the child's convalescence in Perth.
Over the years, children have been treated at Princess Margaret Hospital (now Perth Children’s Hospital), and St John of God Subiaco Hospital for a variety of conditions, ranging from severe cardiac malformations to congenital cataracts. In most cases the specialists, hospitals, radiology and pathology providers discount their services substantially. Nevertheless, treatment costs in Perth can be extremely high. The cost of having a child from Mauritius treated in Perth can be as little as AUD5,000 or as much as AUD30,000.
COMMSSA provides more than mere financial support; many of those young children, and sometimes even their parents, only speak créole (kreol). We usually ensure that the child and accompanying parent are cared for by a family where créole is spoken so that they can feel more “at home”. The presence of a créole speaking person also facilitates interactions with all health professionals.
The cases referred to COMMSSA vary enormously in severity and complexity. A child could be in Perth for as short a stay as one month or, as happened on one occasion, for as long as one year. We see our role as extending well beyond the provision of financial assistance into the intangible field of social and pastoral care.