Dialysis patients receive 4WD ‘adventure’

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The threat of flooding in Yarrabah resulted in a unique vehicle being recruited to ferry patients to treatment.

A custom-built four-wheel drive that usually navigates the Far North’s rainforest creeks and rocky outback trails was recruited today to transfer patients from Yarrabah to Edmonton.

Due to the risk of flooding, more than a dozen renal dialysis patients have been transferred from Yarrabah Emergency Service facility, to the Cairns South Health Facility on Walker Rd, Edmonton.

Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service executive director rural and remote services, Tracey Morgan, said while the Pine Creek Yarrabah Rd was not yet flooded, there was a risk that the patients would be cut off from care if the wet weather continued.

“We needed to move these patients closer to care,” she said.

“The heavy rain we have been receiving since the weekend has meant that we have not been able to get dialysis supplies to Yarrabah and our patients are already using emergency stocks.

“We are just pre-empting the wet weather continuing for at least the next couple of days, leading to road closures as part of our business continuity processes.”

The Health Service hired a custom-built four-wheel drive from Cairns based tour operator Billy Tea Safaris for the patients’ transfer.

“In a situation like this, if the roads were cut, we would be looking at transferring our patients via air or sea,” Ms Morgan said.

“We are taking advantage of the current conditions that make road transfers still safe and are very thankful that we have the assistance of Billy Tea Safaris for this unusual trip.

“Our patients will have comfortable travel, and a unique adventure while they are undertaking renal dialysis this week.”

“We are providing accommodation in Cairns for these patients until they can return home.”

She said at this stage, it was still business as usual for all of the Health Service’s facilities across the Cairns and Hinterland region.

“Our facilities are well prepared and ready to respond if a disaster situation emerges,” she said.

“Each site is following the disaster and emergency plans for flooding.

“Inventory checks have been completed at all our facilities, to ensure that we are ready to respond if circumstances change.

“Just in case, we are reminding our community members to stock up on any essential medical stocks.”