RFDS GPs rise to the challenge

Date published

04 May 2020

No two days are the same for RFDS GP Dr. Bec Jacobs who – alongside her new colleague Dr. Dharminder Singh – works out of the community of Robinvale, in north-west Victoria.

Having initially come on board in late 2019 to set up a GP service that would complement the existing health care infrastructure and service the gaps in health care in the communities of Robinvale and surrounds, Dr. Jacobs is now at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19 in that part of the state.

A growing farming community with a large cohort of overseas workers, Robinvale’s diversity is at the heart of its appeal, while simultaneously presenting challenges in terms of disseminating information, and trying to lock the community down in the wake of the virus’ spread. The community-based-response – led by Dr. Jacobs – has brought together other health care providers who are working together to make sure messaging is consistent and clinicians can cover each other.

One way that this is happening is through providing support for agencies whose normal staff are unable to gain access to the town. With the locums who normally service the Murray Valley Aboriginal Co-op unable to access Robinvale, Dr. Jacobs and Dr. Singh have taken on their patients.

For Dr. Jacobs, at the heart of everything that is happening is a strong sense of collaboration and clear communication. This is particularly evident at the weekly town meetings, coordinated by the hospital – out of which the RFDS operates.

“The hospital is facilitating meetings with any clinicians that are in town, usually on a Tuesday night so that everyone is catching up and we know where things are at.”

“We know who’s working, what role is doing what, and what a redistribution of the workforce (if needed) would look like,” says Dr Jacobs.

As part of this planning, Dr. Singh – who joined RFDS only recently – has been permanently stationed at home providing care via telehealth.

Dr. Jacobs says that this measure is yet another example of the kind of forward planning that has defined the town’s response.

“Touchwood I don’t want to get sick, but if I get sick on the front line, we have someone who’s there the whole way through covering whoever needs covering.”

Dr. Jacobs and Dr. Singh have also been providing pathology support and follow-up consultations when needed in response to the work of the RFDS’ mobile testing clinics – which have been a collaborative effort between the Flying Doctor Mobile Patient Care team and Robinvale District Health Services.  

Dr. Jacobs and Dr. Singh are available for appointments via telehealth and face-to-face. For appointment enquiries, please call 03 5051 8160