Helping people stay well in Wilcannia

p3_Wilcannia Hospital

Wilcannia Hospital.

The RFDS SE Section conducts three clinics a week in the small Central Darling town of Wilcannia.

Held at the multipurpose centre, a GP and other specialists see patients every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

The RFDS senior medical officer for primary care, Dr John Wenham, says the team departs Broken Hill Base about 7.45am, making the 196km trip in about half an hour.

Indigenous people comprise about 80 per cent of the 700 people who live there.

Indigenous men in Wilcannia have a life expectancy of less than 37 years and women less than 43 years, according to a 2009 study of the town published by the Indigenous Law Bulletin.

Patients present with a variety of problems, but John says the RFDS teams see a prevalence of skin problems, diabetes and cardio vascular disease associated with smoking and diet.

John says our future service delivery in Wilcannia is focused on providing continuity of care.

“We see it as a good place to be involved in, where the health needs are so extensive.

p3_ John Wenham removes stitches from Deanne Pearce at Wilcannia.

John Wenham removes stitches from Deanne Pearce at Wilcannia.

“The challenge for us is always to find better ways to engage with our patients.

“With Indigenous patients, it’s always important to put in the time to gain their trust. The relationship is key, as is the continuity of our people on the ground.”

John says the RFDS can see up to 23 patients each day, with 16 on average, with doctors and other medical staff always happy to extend the length of appointments if necessary.

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About Royal Flying Doctor

The Royal Flying Doctor Service has been serving the Australian community for over 85 years. From humble beginnings in 1928, the RFDS now ha
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