Project Report

COVID on country: an innovative model safely supporting high-risk patients in Central Australia


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Mardi Steere1
FACEP, FRACP, Executive General Manager

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Samuel Goodwin2
Executive Director Medical Services

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Fergus W Gardiner3
PhD, Director of Research and Policy

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Debra Gray4
General Manager Pandemic Response

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David Carpenter5
Flight Nurse Manager

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Anthony Pryzibilla6
BSc (Hons), Operations Manager, SQ

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Simon Quilty7
FRACP, Senior Lecturer and PhD Candidate *


1 Royal Flying Doctor Service, RFDS Central Operations, 1 Tower Road, Adelaide, SA 5950, Australia

2, 4 Alice Springs Hospital, 6 Gap Rd, Alice Springs, NT 0870, Australia

3 Royal Flying Doctor Service, Federation Office, 8 Murrell Pl, Flynn, ACT 2615, Australia

5, 6 Royal Flying Doctor Service

7 National Centre of Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Mills St, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia

ACCEPTED: 26 August 2022

early abstract:

Context: Central Australia encompasses a vast landmass consisting of multiple very remote communities. Remote living people place high value of receiving treatment closer to home.
Issues: When the COVID pandemic arrived in Central Australia in early 2022, there was extreme pressure placed on aeromedical retrieval and acute healthcare service capacity.
Lessons Learned: With a carefully executed approach to resource allocation and service delivery location, we have demonstrated a safe and effective way of risk stratifying patients and providing safe and effective provision of acute care on country, saving resources and providing services in a culturally appropriate paradigm.