MORE than 500 people gave a standing ovation to a procession of local nurses as they entered Kianga Memorial Hall, Moura, last night.
The staff, carrying banners and placards protesting moves to downground Moura Hospital, arrived just minutes after the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Services Board had been seated.
The protest provided a show of the community's unbroken spirit.
Community members Debbie Elliott and Kris Jones-McKinstrey opened the night's proceedings with a stern warning to the board that the community's local knowledge was invaluable.
"Please don't come with a pre-conceived idea," Mrs Elliott said.
"We are knowledge rich... we want due process."
Board chairman Charles Ware and deputy chairman Dr David Austin spent the first part of the night going through their proposed model for health care in Moura.
This was met with some hostility, although the crowd was generally willing to listen.
Mr Ware began his speech with a sincere apology to the community of Moura.
"Can I start by offering a very sincere apology for the breakdown in communication between the board and the community of Moura," he said.
"We can do it better and we will do it much better."
He then assured the crowd that the board had come to the meeting with only proposed changes and an open mind.
However he reinforced that the current model at the hospital was unsustainable and some changes would be needed.
The most significant change Mr Ware suggested was ceasing of in-patient care and reduction of full-time positions at the hospital from 19 to nine, which would affect 36 people, as many work part-time.
When the meeting was opened to questions, many residents disputed the data that the board's model was based on.
Trev Evans asked why patients were routinely transferred by helicopter and suggested this may be a reason for the under-utilisation of the hospital.
Another woman was brought to tears describing how residents lacked choice as to where they received medical treatment.
By the end of the night the division between the board and the community had been bridged and it seemed the two parties were ready to work together.
Mr Ware conceded that the proposed plan is now "ancient history" and continued consultation would see the development of a new model which would act as a framework for other small hospitals in the region.
Proposed services at the Moura Primary Care Centre will include:
GP Services - 9:00am to 5:00pm week days and on-call after hours
24/7 Emergency capacity - a Rural and Isolated Practice Registered Nurse (RIPRN) and an Enrolled Nurse Advanced Practice (ENAP) will work in the centre, from 3:00pm daily until 12:00am (midnight), to respond to emergency visits or calls by community members. The RIPRN will then provide an on-call service from midnight until GP opening hours. The ENAP will be the second on-call contact, if required. They will also contribute to a round-the-clock casualty response service developed in conjunction with the GP practice and QueenslandAmbulance Service.
Triage capacity - this will be provided as part of the 24/7 emergency capacity.
Overnight/observation capacity - the RIPRN will triage and observe a patient in a 'holding' bed while determining if admission to another facility is necessary. The RIPRN will be assisted in the observation process through tele- or video-linkages to the Emergency Department at Rockhampton Hospital. The observation capacity will not extend beyond midnight so the patient will have to be discharged home or transferred out by that time. Any patient requiring admission will be transferred via air or road to the nearest appropriate facility:
Hub hospital: Biloela - 67km away
Main referral hospital: Rockhampton - 170km away
Tertiary referral centre: Brisbane - 640km away
X-ray and minor procedure capacity - new x-ray services and facilities will support the existing minor procedure capacity of the centre.
Visiting specialist and allied health professionals - outreach allied health, mental health and social work/counselling services will continue to be provided as usual from Biloela. Telehealth facilities will also continue to be provided with the aim of improving the range of allied health and specialist medical services which can be provided through the Primary Care Centre in conjunction with CQ Medicare Local and the Rural Division of General Practice.
Other former hospital services to be provided locally include:
Palliative care - a community, in-home palliative care service will be developed with Moura Blue Care through a specific funding arrangement as there will be no inpatient capacity in Moura.
Meals on Wheels - will be provided by Blue Care.