MERV rewarded for innovative men’s health service

Andrew Whale has landed a HESTA Nursing Award for his innovative approach to addressing men’s health issues.

NSWNA member Andrew Whale has received the HESTA Innovation in Nursing Award for his work promoting men’s access to health services.

Andrew, a community nurse from Mudgee Community Health Centre, is the creator of an award-winning service, MERV (or Men’s Educational Rural Van), which visits male-dominated workplaces and schools offering free general health check-ups and education.

Part of the HESTA Nursing Awards, the Innovation in Nursing Award acknowledges nurses/teams who have initiated innovative products, services or processes that benefit patients and/or the community.

Each year the HESTA Nursing Awards celebrate and reward the hard work and achievements of Australian nurses. There were over 700 entries for this year’s awards, which are divided into three categories – Nurse of the Year, Innovation in Nursing and the Graduate Nurse of the Year. Many of this year’s nominees were NSWNA members.

Andrew told The Lamp that men’s health is not addressed in a lot of health services, especially in rural areas where geography and occupations can hinder men seeking health care and advice.

‘We try to get out to male-dominated workplaces and schools once every week – we offer a free general health check-up including blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol checks, as well as general information and advice,’ he said.

‘The blokes are time-poor and really appreciate the service and we have even loaned out the van to neighbouring areas.’
MERV was launched in 2005 during Men’s Health Week and to date it has seen over 15,000 men.

Andrew and his team have also held information nights and through their work a new dad’s group has been established as well as a local support group for prostate cancer sufferers.

‘We have identified some more serious health problems in some of our clients that have gone on to be rectified and probably wouldn’t have been detected otherwise – the word is spreading and slowly but surely the men are opening up more about their health.’

Andrew has plans to start up a ‘men’s shed’, a permanent site that men can visit for health checks and advice.