3 August, 2020
Healthcare windback not on agenda for Alpha and Jericho
IT WAS a letter to the Barcaldine Regional Council Mayor, Cr Sean Dillon, that first alerted authorities to the concerns of Alpha residents, and by association Jericho some 60km west, relative to the availability of medical care in the isolated communities.
letter expressed the concerns of especially Alpha residents that due to the
Covid-19 epidemic, combined with the perceived concentration on telehealth
services rather than personal consultation with medical doctors, that residents
were feeling neglected.
High on the list of concerns was the many rumours running throughout the community, yet no-one was able to obtain objective information through official channels.
The main concerns were for the community’s economy. Residents were travelling to Emerald and Clermont specifically, and while they may have travelled for medical reasons, they also did their household shopping, thus depriving the local economy.
“It has an effect right down the line,” one Alpha resident said.
“Alpha and Jericho are geographically and economically tied together,” the resident emphasised.
The Leader took the concerns to the Queensland Health Department, and in a written reply, Dr David Walker, Executive Director of the Central West Hospital and Health Service advised that “as part of the overall Queensland-wide and national response to the Covid-19 pandemic of the past few months, most routine medical and other non-urgent consultations, including visiting medical clinics, were converted temporarily to telehealth format.”
“This change was designed to help minimise health risks to both patients and clinical staff, while continuing to deliver healthcare, and was implemented across all health services and with many GP private practices throughout Queensland,” Dr Walker said.
“With the Covid-19 curve now flattening, and the Central West so far remaining free of any cases, we have started returning to a 50-50 mix of face-to-face and telehealth medical consultations.
“While this means we are now delivering two visiting medical clinics a week at Alpha, rather than four, there has been NO reduction in the availability of GP telehealth consultations.”
Dr Walker reiterated that telehealth consultations with a doctor are available throughout the week to all Alpha residents who wish to book one.
“There has been no change to emergency services or to any in-hospital services at Alpha,” he said.
“These remain uncertain times and we ask for people’s understanding. We are not out of the woods yet.
“We will continue to monitor the pandemic situation closely and review how are our services are delivered to ensure they remain as safe as possible for both patients and staff,” Dr Walker reminded.