The Governor joined the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Western Operations) (RFDS) Board Chair Mr Sam Walsh AO on a routine training flight to Meekatharra on Friday 28th August to officially open the upgraded Patient Transfer Area facilities at the RFDS’ Meekatharra Base.
The Governor met with Karen Glenn, Director Of Nursing/Health Service Manager at Meekatharra Hospital and staff to take a tour of the facilities and discuss how COVID-19 has impacted the region’s medical capabilities.
‘Thanks to the staff at Meekatharra Hospital for the wonderful tour. It’s terrific to have a look around at your facility here which is very well equipped, but more than being so well equipped it’s the spirit that really does infuse you as you go though. This is community. A lot of people put themselves out in a lot of different ways to make this place work, so it’s inspirational to see it. Meekatharra is a unique community to conceptualise and it has challenges on how to understand and respond to the potential health problems that exist and how these will be handled. They are well supported by the Royal Flying Doctors Service in keeping everything going.
The Royal Flying Doctors is unique. There are vague resemblances of this service in other countries but nothing that compares to the structure you have now. Then there is the rural outposts and nobody does it as tough as we do. We are imposing on a land a capability that is virtually impossible to deliver, and yet we do. How we do it is a testament to the spirit of the hard working staff of Meekatharra Hospital and RFDS. You are a treasure to the State and it’s people like you that other Australians can learn from.”
The Governor also learned about the story of Pearl Baumgarten – 1958 Daisy Bates Memorial Prize Winner and Aboriginal Nurse in Meekatharra. She represents what can be achieved and serves as a reminder to all who pass through the Hospital.
The Governor then met with RFDS crews and toured the Base, as well as attending the official event. The opening of the upgraded Patient Transfer Area was attended by WA Country Health Service Chief Executive Jeff Moffet and representatives from the local community.
The RFDS’ Meekatharra Base was established 75 years ago in 1945. Crews stationed at the Base respond to healthcare emergencies, provide safe transfer of patients between hospitals and deliver regular primary healthcare clinics (eg GP, nurse and dental clinics) to communities in the region.
The strategic location of Meekatharra in the centre of WA means locally-based RFDS crews can respond to incidents across the State. Meekatharra crews transported 875 patients last financial year from as far afield as the Great Southern and the Kimberley. In the same period, 282 patients travelled through Meekatharra and a total 1,545 patients were retrieved from the Midwest region.
The RFDS currently flies approximately 27 patients per day to safety across WA. In the last financial year, a record 9,012 patients were transferred by the aeromedical charity.
The Governor is proud to be Patron of RFDS Western Operations.