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15 April, 2021

Increased health services to Yarrabah

MORE people can now receive kidney dialysis in Yarrabah with three extra dialysis chairs opening at the local Gurriny Yealamucka Health Services Aboriginal Corporation (Gurriny) this week.

Patients in the expanded dialysis unit. Back: Shanelle Graham, Middle: Millicent Smith, Front: Myrtle Barkley.

The expanded dialysis unit will be able to dialyse 14 Yarrabah patients (eight of whom previously travelled to Cairns up to three times a week for dialysis).

This investment in dialysis at Yarrabah by the Queensland Government’s First Nations COVID-19 project brings the total number of dialysis chairs in Yarrabah to seven.

The funding allows for up to 20 more Yarrabah residents to receive dialysis treatment in their home community.

Executive Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health at Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Joy Savage welcomed the expanded service and said it was stood up in record time.

“This time last year, the COVID-19 pandemic combined with the then biosecurity arrangements posed new challenges for patients, communities and the health system,” said Ms Savage.

“Our Health Service moved quickly to work with Gurriny to expand the existing satellite dialysis service to deliver additional sessions, allowing more people to receive treatment in community, close to home, and on country,” said Ms Savage.

“This was possible thanks to the extraordinary commitment and determination of Gurriny’s leadership team, together with expert teams from Queensland Health,” said Ms Savage.

Sue Andrews, Chief Executive at Gurriny said the extension to the dialysis facility is whole-heartedly welcomed by patients.

“It will improve our patient’s lives on a daily basis, improve the lives of their families and our community as a whole.”

“We thank everyone involved who came together to make this extended and much-needed service a reality.”

“At Gurriny, we value the responsibility of providing a quality health service to all residents of Yarrabah,” said Ms Andrews.

Dr Jason King, Senior Medical Officer at Gurriny said kidney disease is a serious health problem for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Dialysis is the leading cause of hospitalisation accounting for almost half of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospital admissions,” he said.

“We welcome access to the increased number of dialysis chairs for the people of Yarrabah suffering with severe kidney disease but as a service we are firmly committed to preventing people from needing this service in the future.

“Our partnership with the Health Service allows us to deliver a culturally appropriate model-of-care to our people on their land and the ability to provide the Yarrabah community the highest quality primary care service,” said Dr King.

This expansion at Yarrabah is part of a wider expansion of dialysis services in the greater Cairns region.

“The opening of Cairns South Health Facility in Edmonton late last year, provided an additional 12 dialysis chairs, reducing the need for many patients living on the southside to travel to and from Cairns Hospital three times a week,” said Ms Savage. 

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