Proper access to healthcare in rural areas can be challenging, so small towns in regional New South Wales are adapting local infrastructures to better serve their communities during the COVID-19 crisis.
In Tooraweenah, an hour north of Dubbo, the local showgrounds have been transformed into a vaccination hub.
For local Kristy Gale, who is also secretary of the Tooraweenah Show, the repurposing provides ease for the town’s residents.
“Instead of having to go down to the park where they’ve got no cover, they can come up here,” she said.
The work of fly-in-fly-out health care staff in these communities throughout the course of the pandemic has been invaluable, with nursing staff and GPs coming from cities or regional towns to assist efforts.
Nurse Caroline Harris jumped on a plane from Sydney to assist the Royal Flying Doctor Service in isolated areas to administer doses.
“If you’re in a rural or remote community, you’re not only isolated geographically, but we already know that service availability of specialist care is just not equitable to that of our city counterparts,” Ms Harris said.
General Practitioners play a vital role in delivering vaccinations to these regions, but the number of doctors remains concerningly low – towns such as Parkes are currently facing a critical shortage of GPs.