'Mini hospital' saving lives after Cyclone Debbie

Cyclone Debbie aftermath in Airlie. Dr. Melissa McCann with both her staff and medic volunteers who are stuck in Airlie. Picture: Alix Sweeney.
Cyclone Debbie aftermath in Airlie. Dr. Melissa McCann with both her staff and medic volunteers who are stuck in Airlie. Picture: Alix Sweeney. Alix Sweeney

AN emergency mini-hospital set up at Cannonvale, near Airlie Beach, has saved lives and treated more than 60 people since floodwaters from Cyclone Debbie cut roads in the Whitsundays on Tuesday.

Many of the patients were treated for severe cuts and lacerations caused by metal and other debris.

At least two were suffering from life-threatening conditions and one man was brought in after being found lying unconscious on a road.


Dr Melissa McCann, along with eight local medical practitioners and nurses, donated their time to treating people cut off from medical help at Proserpine Hospital.

Dr McCann - who assisted with the delivery of a baby at the Cannonvale Ambulance Centre on Wednesday - said the Queensland Ambulance Service had started bringing patients to her Whitsunday Family Practice on Wednesday morning.

"The QAS asked us before the cyclone if we would act as a makeshift hospital," she said.

"We've seen people with life threatening conditions and have had several critical cases brought in."

Dr McCann said some patients had stayed all day under observation and into the night. She said the clinic was opening at 8.30am and had been seeing patients up until 9pm.


She said many people had made their own way, but added there had been a steady number of deliveries of patients by ambulance.

"We have had one serious spinal injury and another patient brought in after being found unconscious out on a road," Dr McCann said.

"After the delivery of the baby on Wednesday the ambulance service started bringing in critically injured patients from the cyclone."

Dr McCann said a pharmacy in the same complex had also opened.

"That has helped diabetics get insulin. Everyone has been considerate. All the people we have seen have been emergencies," she said.

Conway resident Jackie Oosen had a nightmare trip to the clinic with her partner and two sick children. Ms Oosen said they were cut off and had no communications.

"My neighbour has an excavator and he drove it in front of us part of the way, filling in the road where it had washed out and packing it down so that we could drive on it. We are just so glad the doctors are here and the chemist," she said.

Nadia Cekanauskas, 29, was in terrible pain after an operation on the inside of her mouth.

She was waiting to have a prescription filled by pharmacist Kirsty Gouldthorp.

"I feel so lucky the doctors are doing this and that the chemist is open. I don't know what I would have done. The pain was so bad I had to come here to the doctor and get a prescription," she said.

Bare-chested Clive Wall was waiting outside the chemist shop. "I'm here for medication I need. It's good when you have people like the chemists and their staff, and the doctors and nurses and their staff, who give up everything to help others at times like this," he said.

Topics:  airlie beach cyclone debbie mackay

News Corp Australia

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