Graphic: Charleville Nurse Manager reflects on twenty years of service
Nestled in the heart of the Queensland outback lies Charleville, home to the longest operating Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) (Queensland Section) base – described fondly by locals as “the best base in Queensland".
For two remarkable decades Joanne Mahony, the dedicated Nurse Manager, has been a beacon of care for this community.
Growing up on a rural farm, Joanne had an early exposure to healthcare. From helping with livestock medical procedures to listening to stories from her mother’s years as a nurse, she knew she’d pursue a career in healing.
Rural placements during her nursing education only deepened this commitment, allowing her to deliver much needed healthcare services to remote communities.
It was this, and her strong belief that where you live shouldn't negatively impact your access to quality health care, that drew her to the RFDS.
"No two days are ever the same. One day, you're grappling with the aftermath of heart-wrenching medical trauma, and the next, you're assisting in the miracle of bringing a new life into the world," Joanne said.
“It’s impossible to put into words the magnitude of the privilege of being part of someone’s life journey from their first breath.
“I’ve cradled newborns and now I am witnessing them as young adults starting families of their own.”
Over the past 14 years alone, RFDS Charleville has treated more than 56,000 patients across more than 6,700 clinics and undertaken 8,200 transfers.
Her role has evolved with the changing landscape of healthcare in Charleville. While once working on local farm-side injuries and as a point of contact for emergency care, Joanne now embraces a range of specialised responsibilities such as midwifery, antenatal care, and child health.
Reflecting on these changes, Joanne notes how the service has had to quickly adapt.
“The demand for rural medical care has surged in recent years, and we've risen to meet it," she said.
“Annual flying hours have soared from a humble 800 to an astonishing 2,600, addressing the expanding needs of our community.
“Our scope has also widened to encompass more preventative and chronic health management, aiming to be there for every stage of life."
From morning tea rosters to the famed ‘Bush Telegraph’, the Charleville community's unwavering support of the RFDS is deeply entrenched.
"They're not just the people we serve; they're our family,” Joanne said.
“From dawn till dusk, they stand by us, ensuring we have the resources we need.
"Working with, and for this incredible group of people, is an honour beyond words."
Joanne continues to play a key role at the RFDS Charleville Base, servicing a waiting room of more than 622,000 square kilometres in Queensland, and providing a range of essential medical services to those living, working, and travelling across the region.