Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) is working in collaboration with primary healthcare providers to establish an immediate response to assist with recovery efforts of flood-affected Townsville residents.
NQPHN is working with Townsville Hospital and Health Service (HHS) to identify other measures to ensure the ongoing wellbeing of residents in Townsville and to ensure they achieve the right care, in the right place, at the right time.
“If you’re feeling unwell, residents can go to the emergency department (ED), however they need to realise there is currently an increase on ED demand at Townsville HHS,” said NQPHN Chief Executive Officer John Gregg.
“Other avenues for primary healthcare are to consult with your local GP or pharmacist. Residents can search for their closest service provider by visiting www.nqphn.com.au, clicking on ‘general public information’, and using the National Health Service Directory. This will tell you who is open and contact details to call and make an appointment.”
NQPHN is also working closely with House Call Doctor to build capacity and additional support for the immediate response period of increased demand for physical health care in Townsville.
“House Call Doctor has expanded its service in Townsville by two registered general practitioners, doubling its capacity to provide after-hours services during the next few months in support of flood recovery efforts,” said Mr Gregg.
“Confidential phone service 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week where people can seek advice from a registered nurse.
“Dialling Triple Zero or visiting the ED is still the best option in a medical emergency.”
NQ Connect, run by service provider On the Line and funded by NQPHN, has been expanded in the region to address the mental health needs of residents following the major flood event.
NQ Connect is a free 24/7 phone and online counselling service providing a safe pathway to connect people to mental health services that are best suited to their needs; from counselling people who are worried, stressed, and affected by the floods, to more complex cases requiring multiple health service providers and referrals for ongoing care.
Mr Gregg said weather events like the record-breaking floods have a dramatic impact on people’s lives and bring about a range of intense emotions and long-term effects.
“Natural disasters such as major flooding impact entire communities and can significantly disrupt daily life, so it is common for people to experience a range of intense and confusing emotions,” said Mr Gregg.
“The expansion of NQ Connect provides residents with a single-entry point to access counselling support and guidance as communities recover from the devastating floods that have affected the region.”
Mr Gregg also urges the community to check in with their health during flood recovery and take extra precautions.
“At this time, it is really important to do some fundamental self-care and practice correct hygiene and basic first-aid especially when cleaning wounds,” Mr Gregg said.
“When treating cuts and scratches it’s imperative to take extra care given bacteria currently present in soil.
“Treat it with some good quality antiseptic, cover the wound, and if you’re worried about it seek medical advice from your GP, pharmacist, or the emergency department. If it’s life threatening, call Triple Zero.”
A range of public health factsheets are available on the NQPHN Townsville floods recovery page here.