Dr Andrew Weissenberger (top left) was part of a group of GPTQ supervisors who volunteered at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast during April.
Dr Catherine Henderson, Dr Simone Wright and Dr John Buckley volunteered with Andrew at the Polyclinic in the athletes’ village throughout the games. “The Polyclinic was a combination of general practice and emergency department for athletes and team members. We saw a lot of typically musculoskeletal injuries and general illness – people get sick just as they would anywhere else. It covered the gamut of general practice”.
“There were varied presentations. In fact, we even had an acute heart attack and case of malaria that ended up in intensive care at the Gold Coast University Hospital. There were all sorts of interesting things that presented it wasn’t just sprained ankles”.
When asked if he was busy Andrew explained that the Polyclinic offered free dental, optometry and medical to the athletes, and was kept busy with athletes from poorer countries taking advantage of the high quality, free healthcare available to them.
Out of comfort zone
Dr Weissenberger did admit working in a totally new environment was challenging at first. “From a supervisor point of view, volunteering for the games gave me perspective of what it must feel like for a registrar on their first day of first term. I had unfamiliar surroundings, people I hadn’t worked with before and processes and systems that were all new. It took me out of my comfort zone”.
The volunteer doctors didn’t get to see all of the teams at the Polyclinic because like Australia, most of the wealthier nations travel with their own medical team, but he did see some Australian athletes when they came into the clinic to use the equipment there. “We saw Australian athletes that came with their team doctor if they needed access to particular investigation such as MRI, and we would have a discussion about what investigation they needed and why, which was interesting”.
Positive vibe was highlight
Andrew described being in the athlete’s village and being part of the vibe as the highlight for him. “We had some athletes come into the clinic with their medals. These guys are trying to perform at their best and achieving and it was really nice to be a part of their excitement. There are so many people who had volunteered their time and energy to be part of the something bigger. It was really nice”.