What having no ICU beds in the south west means for any future confirmed cases of covid-19.
What having no ICU beds in the south west means for any future confirmed cases of covid-19.

MP reveals how vulnerable southwest is to COVID-19 outbreak

NO ICU beds in her electorate has raised serious alarm bells for Ann Leahy for when there is a confirmed case of covid-19 in the south west.

The MP Member for Warrego said while confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been delayed in our isolated communities, realistically it is likely to hit the south west eventually.

“The fact that we have no ICU beds is very concerning,” she said.

“And I’ve been asking these questions since the first briefing of COVID-19 at last parliament sitting.

“My concern is that if we have RDFS and LifeFlight doing these emergency retrievals, it will compromise our ability to deal with heart attacks, people who have a car accidents and compromise our emergency abilities of these services.

“If we did have a COVID-19 case, and LifeFlight had to fly them out and then someone on the crew became unwell within 14 days, we would shut have to shut that whole base down which would be very concerning.”

After doing her own research, Ms Leahy discovered Queensland Health had procured three challenger 604 aircrafts to be exclusively used for transporting COVID-19 patients from regional areas to intensive care.

“I am also aware to the limitations of challenger aircrafts and to what airports they can land at,” she said.

“While Charleville and Roma shouldn’t be a problem, getting into smaller airstrips such as Quilpie, Tambo, Chinchilla, Dalby and Dirranbandi could be a concern.”

South West Hospital and Health Service Executive Director of Medical Services Dr Ross Duncan said the service has comprehensive plans in place to manage any cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) within the region.

Dr Duncan said this included ensuring each facility has adequate supplies, equipment and other contingencies.

“We have plans in place for the management of seriously ill patients, including those who may need respiratory assistance of any kind,” he said.

“We have ventilators available in our emergency departments and operating theatres for the stabilisation of patients who require respiratory assistance while awaiting more specialised care.

“Patients requiring ongoing complex respiratory support – or any form of more complex care – are transferred to a tertiary facility for specialised care.”

Dr Duncan said all ambulances and retrieval aircraft have ventilator support for the safe transport of patients requiring respiratory support.

“Aerial retrievals of patients with complex conditions from rural hospitals to a tertiary facility are coordinated by Queensland Health’s Retrieval Services Queensland,” he said.

“Intensive care units are highly specialised units, with highly specialised staff, that are available only in tertiary facilities.

“Patients from the south west requiring specialised care, including intensive care, are transferred safely to Toowoomba Hospital or a hospital in Brisbane and this standard procedure has not changed.

“Travel restrictions do not impact on the activities of our aeromedical retrieval services.”

The State Government recently announced funding for more aeromedical services as part of the $4 billion State Government package of additional support for health, jobs, households and businesses.

As a result, three LifeFlight and Aspen Medical air ambulance jets have been added to Queensland Health’s aeromedical fleet.

“It is critically important people practice social distancing and don’t travel over the Easter period,” Ms Leahy said.

“We are a more precarious situation while it is comforting to know that there is a link there, we also need to be aware that it is not the be all and end all

“I appeal to our residents, please keep this electorate covid-19 free. Everyone needs to do the right thing.

“It is highly likely that your loved one is flown out, they may pass away in a hospital with no-one around them.

“There’s nothing worse then dying alone.”


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