Keeping remote community safe during COVID-19

Date published

27 Apr 2020
Yakanarra Community School students design Stop Coronavirus poster

RFDS Primary Health Care nurse Kate Jones and Dr Tanya Ronaldson, based in Broome, work alongside four other doctors as part of a primary health care team who travel to several remote communities across the Kimberley region.

Kate and Tanya’s early March visit to the Yakanarra community, south-west of Fitzroy Crossing, is eagerly anticipated.  An important meeting has been called among the community of 150 Aboriginal men, women and children.  Families, community leaders, elders and school children of the Yakanarra community gather outside the RFDS clinic to hear from Kate and Tanya.   

The community listen intently to Kate and Tanya as they talk about what COVID-19 is, how the virus spreads, the symptoms and the critical importance of hygiene and social distancing in preventing the spread.

Posters designed by Yakanarra Community School students feature atthe RFDS  Broome base

As Kate discusses the social distancing measures, it gives her much pleasure to see the community respond by moving apart to stand two arms away from each other. She smiles to herself as she has to project her voice further.

Alongside the clinics, the children in the community continue to receive further education on hygiene, social distancing and are kept updated about COVID-19 at school.

At the next scheduled community meeting, the pair were thrilled when they were presented with a collection of ‘Stop Coronavirus’ posters designed by students from the Yakanarra Community School. The posters were brought back as precious cargo to the RFDS Broome base and proudly displayed on the walls.

In April, as the Kimberley region has recorded close to 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the posters serve as a reminder of the crucial importance of our work in continuing to ensure the health outcomes and sustainability of remote and regional communities across WA.

Dr Tanya Ronaldson (left) with PHC nurse Kate Jones

Our Broome primary health care team travel far and wide across the Kimberley region.  They regularly conduct General Practice clinics at Mount House, Drysdale and Doongan Stations, Mornington Wilderness Camp on the Gibb River Road and in the Aboriginal communities of Djugerari, Koorabye, Kadjina and Yakanarra.

To gain access into these remote communities, their primary mode of transport is an RFDS PC-12 turboprop aircraft which carries their essential medical equipment and supplies. 

Residents in these communities are faced with barriers to healthcare access such as geography, extreme weather events and socioeconomic factors. Without the RFDS’ weekly free primary healthcare clinic, they would have little to no access to basic healthcare, life-saving immunisations, health screenings, referrals for specialist care and treatment for chronic health conditions.

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