Medical treatment ‘at risk’ as Dartmoor patient raises health concerns

Rob Hunt 3  TBW Newsgroup
BORDER CONCERN: Victorian resident Rod Hunt lives 10km from the South Australian border and remains concerned about what the tightening restrictions will mean for cross-border community members.

Rob Hunt 3 TBW Newsgroup
BORDER CONCERN: Victorian resident Rod Hunt lives 10km from the South Australian border and remains concerned about what the tightening restrictions will mean for cross-border community members.

A TERMINALLY ill Dartmoor man who accesses vital health services in Mount Gambier has said he will forgo medical treatment if he is required to travel to Portland or Ballarat ahead of the tightening border restrictions.

Cross-border community members will no longer be able to enter South Australia for education, shopping and receiving medical care as of Friday, with movement to be restricted to Victorians considered as essential travellers.

Dartmoor resident Alan Moore, who has cancer and serious heart issues, intends to apply for essential traveller status under the new restrictions, but is unsure whether he will be granted permission in light of a number of rejections since the new directions were announced.

Due to the late detection of the cancer, Mr Moore can only be treated for pain relief and requires injections to manage his pain which are administered in Mount Gambier.

“On Friday everything shuts down and I have no idea whether I will be able to get through to my doctors,” Mr Moore said.

“I have heart trouble and I have to see the doctors every week.

“I also have cancer they only found when they were looking at my heart and I can only be treated for pain relief because it has gone too far.

“I can only get those needles done in Mount Gambier, so I do not know what I will do if I cannot get approved.

“There’s a bush hospital right next door to me but they cannot administrate any needles unless the doctors give them permission and they do not know whether they are coming or going because their staff are from South Australia.”

Individuals who require urgent medical, dental or health treatment can be granted permission to attend appointments in Mount Gambier, but require an approval letter from the Health Department chief executive, South Australian chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier or a deputy chief public health officer.

The 64 year old raised concerns about whether the essential traveller exemption – which requires an individual to apply 72 hours before their intended arrival to South Australia – could be used on multiple occasions.

“If I need treatment, it could be at the drop of a hat because a lot of people think you live around the corner and can access the hospital easily,” Mr Moore said.

“One day I went to the doctor on the Friday and I got a phone call that night telling me to go straight to Adelaide.

“I will not be able to do that under these new rules.”

Mr Moore said if his application to access health services in Mount Gambier was unsuccessful, he was unlikely to seek treatment in Victoria.

“The only other options are go to Portland or Ballarat and I just will not do it because of the cases and there are too many risk factors,” he said.

“If I caught the disease, it would kill me.

“If I need medication, I cannot get it without going to the doctors and there is no way I am going to go to Portland to get it.”

Victorian resident Rod Hunt, who lives 10km from the South Australian border, has also raised concerns about accessing health services under the new rules.

Mr Hunt hoped to receive an exemption to access treatment for a farm injury, but was notified his application was unsuccessful over the weekend.

“I had a farm accident and I came to Mount Gambier to get an x-ray, but now they are going to send me to Hamilton – I have never even been to Hamilton,” he said.

“The only other thing for me is to apply for an exemption for my future medical appointments and hope to get approved for one-off occasions.”

The former Mount Gambier resident also raised concerns about accessing essential items he would otherwise purchase across the border, including petrol, groceries, stock feed and firewood.

“Once they brought in the cross-border community direction, I came into Mount Gambier once a week to do my grocery shopping and I would do the right thing and wear a mask, temperature check and get in and get out,” Mr Hunt said.

“Now I will have to come in every day this week and stock up so I might only have to go to Dartmoor to get my milk and bread.

“If I run out things, I will have to go to Hamilton or Casterton and try to keep those visits to a minimum.

“There are a lot of little things like getting my mail redirected to Victoria because I pick it up from Mount Gambier and organising hay for my stock that I will now need to work out.

“These things are small, but it all adds up and all of a sudden, it becomes a big problem.”

Mr Hunt expressed dismay over the strict border closures and the implications it will have on the cross-border communities in the future.

“Everything I do, I do in South Australia” he said.

“In the last 12 months, I would have spent close to $200,000 in South Australia.

“I just bought a block with a big shed out at Yahl, a new ute and rain tanks all from South Australia.

“It seems as if the government is happy to take money for the South Australian economy, but when it gets a little bit tough they say see you later.

“It is alright to sit up in Adelaide and make the decisions when they do not understand the situation at all.

“There is no evidence of cross-border community members contracting or transmitting COVID-19, but we are the ones who have to pay for it.”