The Royal Flying Doctor Service is set to redevelop the existing Marree Remote Area Clinic into a new state-of-the-art health precinct to service Far North communities.
The project received a $716,000 boost from the South Australian Government’s Regional Growth Fund this month, with the remaining $1.06 million for the redevelopment to be funded by the RFDS through corporate sponsorships, fundraising and donations from the community.
With the Outback Highway to Marree now sealed, the town has become more accessible than ever for tour groups and caravanners en route to Lake Eyre and the Birdsville and Oodnadatta Tracks. When Lake Eyre flooded in May, almost 15 per cent of the clinic’s patient contacts at Marree were tourists to the region.
The clinic also serves local residents and pastoralists from surrounding areas. A RFDS ‘fly-in’ GP/nurse clinic team arrives from Port Augusta Base fortnightly and as space within the existing clinic is limited, consultations are often undertaken at the school, community office or on the veranda of the clinic.
SA Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development, Tim Whetstone MP, acknowledged the importance of access to healthcare in remote communities.
"With booming tourism in the Far North region, including tourists flocking to the Lake Eyre flooding, Birdsville Track and Strzelecki Track, emergency medical services and our Royal Flying Doctor Service are in demand," Minister Whetstone said.
"Our tourism sector is growing, and in future will place further strain on the current infrastructure. This total $1.73 million investment will ensure outback residents and our visitors can be given the right care, and the precinct will create a new benchmark for remote primary health services delivery.
The RFDS will use modular and prefabricated construction to create a purpose-designed agile health infrastructure precinct featuring:
- treatment spaces for mental health, dental, general treatment, sterilisation, dispensary and patient hold/emergency;
- public areas including a waiting area, play area, parents room and accessible toilets;
- staff areas including reception, office administration, training and conference facilities and staff breakout spaces;
- an external ambulance drop-off space; and
- a new staff dwelling comprising two bedrooms, two bathrooms, shared living quarters and car parking.
Tony Vaughan ASM, Chief Executive of RFDS Central Operations, said the project would enhance service delivery for those in the Far North.
“The Royal Flying Doctor Service is proud to provide around-the-clock access to health services in remote South Australia – whether it be caring for born-and-bred locals, workers on the land, or travellers taking in the wonders of the outback,” Mr Vaughan said.
“The redevelopment of the Marree Remote Area Clinic is another important step towards enhancing the quality of care we deliver every day to patients in every corner of the state.”