Western Sydney University academic named a ‘Hero of Liverpool’

Evan Alexandrou Dr Evan Alexandrou with Liverpool Mayor, Wendy Waller.

A Western Sydney University academic has been presented a special community award from Liverpool City Council, in recognition of his contributions to the health and wellbeing of the local community.

Dr Evan Alexandrou, a Senior Lecturer within the University's School of Nursing and Midwifery, was presented with a 'Hero of Liverpool' award at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre on 26 June 2017.

The Heroes of Liverpool Awards were created to recognise outstanding members of the community – people who have gone above and beyond in their day-to-day work to improve the lives of others.

In addition to being a teacher and mentor for Western Sydney University nursing students, Dr Alexandrou is a Clinical Nurse Consultant within the Central Venous Access Service (CVAS) at Liverpool Hospital.

Dr Alexandrou is also the chief investigator in the world's largest vascular access research project – the One Million Global Catheters study – which has audited the use of peripheral intravenous catheters in over 41,000 patients in 450 hospitals in 51 countries.

"Nearly everyone is familiar with peripheral intravenous catheters – the small plastic devices that are inserted in the front of your hand or arm to help hospital staff easily administer medicines and fluids into your body," says Dr Alexandrou.

"Central venous catheters are not as common. These are specialised devices inserted into the larger veins of the body – in the neck, chest and groin – and are used to administer medication that would be harmful for the smaller peripheral veins. Cancer patients, for example, require these 'central lines' for long-term chemotherapy treatment."

Dr Alexandrou, who was one of the first nurses in Australia to be trained in Central Venous Access, says the CVAS team at Liverpool Hospital is internationally recognised for its advanced, state-of-the-art methods for providing vascular access to patients.

"Inserting catheters can be a difficult, risky process. Sometimes it can require multiple attempts; veins can collapse; the devices can fail; and they can cause irritation, infections and swelling – all of which are a cause of pain and discomfort for patients," says Dr Alexandrou.

"When a catheter is inserted into a patient's chest, the aim is for it to rest just before the entrance to the heart. Traditionally, clinicians would put the catheter in place and would then need to wait for an X-Ray to see if it's in the right position. If it isn't, they then have to make a series of manipulations – increasing the risk of further complications.

"The CVAS team were the first in Australia to adapt ECG technology, that detects the patient's heart rate through the blood, guiding the placement of the catheter – which is a quicker, safer and eliminates the need for radiation by X Ray. We are also trained to use ultrasound techniques for catheter placement."

Dr Alexandrou says the failure and infection rates of catheters administered by the CVAS team are negligible – and the team is working to train and credential doctors within the Hospital to use their techniques.

"The outcomes for patients are so vastly improved – we actually have patients that come to the Hospital and refuse to have a catheter inserted, unless it is inserted using our procedures," he says.

Associate Professor Deborah Hatcher, Dean of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, says the Liverpool award is recognising Dr Alexandrou for 'Innovation in Health Excellence.'

"Dr Alexandrou is a worthy recipient of this community award and is a credit to the University," says Associate Professor Hatcher.

"His work as a clinical nurse directly improves patient outcomes; his applied research is advancing treatment procedures; and as a University lecturer and mentor, he is inspiring the next generation of nurses to make a real difference in their future careers."