Queensland Health staff around the state have worked hard to prepare for Cyclone Yasi’s expected landfall tonight.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Health Paul Lucas said Queensland Health was ready, willing and able to provide care during and in the aftermath of the cyclone.

“Queensland Health is taking every precaution to ensure patient safety and to ensure that our health services are able to continue to provide care to the community at this critical time,” Mr Lucas said.

Mr Lucas confirmed that the evacuation of more than 320 patients from Cairns had been completed successfully.

Patients from Cairns Base Hospital – including dialysis patients living in the community – and patients from Cairns Private Hospital were airlifted to Brisbane by Queensland Health with the assistance of:

  • the Royal Flying Doctor Service
  • CareFlight
  • the Australian Defence Force
  • Queensland Police Service
  • Queensland Ambulance Service
  • Alliance Charter
  • Jetstar
  • the government air wing.

“This was the biggest hospital evacuation over such a large distance ever undertaken in Australia,” Mr Lucas said.

“I am pleased to report that all patients were safe and in a stable condition on arrival, including intensive care patients.

“I was deeply impressed by the commitment of all staff involved in the evacuation effort both in Cairns and Brisbane.

“One senior doctor told me that he had been overwhelmed with the number of clinicians offering to be part of the team.

“The way all staff worked together cooperatively to deliver this result is a great credit to them and the Queensland people.”

Among those evacuated were seven pregnant women; sixteen babies; eight intensive care patients; 18 mental health patients and more than 60 dialysis patients. General medical patients, the parents of evacuated children, medical escorts and carers were also airlifted to Brisbane.

Patients were triaged by medical teams at the airport, transported by a fleet of ambulances and received at the following facilities:

  • Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital
  • The Prince Charles Hospital
  • Princess Alexandra Hospital
  • Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Hospital
  • Royal Children’s Hospital
  • Mater Children’s and Mater Mother’s Hospitals
  • Redcliffe Hospital
  • Ipswich Hospital
  • The Park Mental Health Facility.

Private facilities have also rallied to accept private patients including:

  • Wesley Private Hospital
  • Greenslopes Private Hospital
  • North West Private Hospital.

Dialysis patients requiring outpatient care have also been accommodated.

The receiving hospitals are directly contacting each evacuated patient’s next of kin to advise of their location and status.

In addition, to accommodate these patients, the Brisbane South, Brisbane North, Gold Coast and Children’s health service districts have postponed non-urgent elective surgery.

In Cairns, an alternative emergency care centre has begun operation at Fretwell Park sports complex in Edmonton, ensuring residents have continuous access to emergency care while Cairns Base Hospital is closed.

Mr Lucas said Gordonvale Health Service had also been identified as at risk and nine admitted patients had been evacuated from Gordonvale to either Brisbane or Mareeba.

“All facilities in the affected areas have contingency plans in place to ensure affected communities continue to be able to receive the care they need,” he said.

Queensland Health is preparing to provide further support in the aftermath of the cyclone, including having arrangements for up to four temporary tactical medical facilities to be set up in the cyclone-affected areas as needed.

In addition, teams of surgical, emergency medicine and mental health clinicians are preparing for deployment following the cyclone event.

Mr Lucas encouraged residents in cyclone-affected regions to stay tuned to emergency broadcasts for health advice throughout this trying time, including details of where to go for emergency care.

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