The RFDS in SA/NT
Primary Care Outreach
The Primary Care Outreach Program (PCOP) is a regular fly-in clinic conducted on a regular basis from our Port Augusta Base to 15 remote towns and communities around South Australia where allied health professionals who are employed by SA Country Health conduct day long clinics.
A similar program called the NT Clinic Charter where the RFDS flies in teams of NT Health clinicians from our Alice Springs Base to isolated communities to day-long clinics.
The regular clinics, which are supported by State and Territory governments, provide locals with essential access to allied and mental health services on a regular basis. Patients often book a consultation in advance or can walk-in and wait for a consultation on the day of the clinic.
In 2015/16 RFDS Central Operations conducted 1,907 facilitated clinics which were attended by 19,290 patients.
Graphic: Dani and Carolann
Occupational Therapist Dani Kelly and Child and Family Health Service Nurse Carolann Hodshon are among a number of health professionals who get to take their work out of the office into some of the most remote parts of South Australia.
They, and others like them, are regular participants in the RFDS Primary Care Outreach Program (PCOP) clinics where the RFDS takes teams of allied health professionals to remote towns and communities to provide services not normally available to locals, or if they are it can often be up to a day's drive away.
The typical clinic can be in a location such as Leigh Creek or Coober Pedy where Dani and Carolann are often accompanied by a Speech Therapist, a Mental Health Nurse, a Physiotherapist and a senior allied health student. Over seven hours, the teams conduct a clinic providing allied health services to the remote town and those living in surrounding communities.
"The Primary Care Outreach Program is so important because it gives people living in remote areas access to allied and mental health services that they would otherwise need to travel large distances for," Dani says.
"These services really assist families and individuals to reach their potential, despite the unique challenges they face living isolated regions of the country."
Both Dani and Carolann are based in Port Augusta and employed by the SA Government at the Port Augusta Hospital and Regional Health Service but regularly take part in the RFDS program to provide vital allied health and mental health services to remote communities.
Meanwhile, in a similar program in the Northern Territory, a team of NT Health clinicians are also flown by the RFDS from Alice Springs Base to facilitate health clinics at remote communities in the southern half of the NT.