RFDS facility in full flight

FLYING INTO COVER: RFDS operations manager Anthony Pryzibilla explains why the Mount Gambier Patient Transfer Facility has improved the safety and care available to both staff and patients. Picture: LEON GEORGIOU.

By Leon Georgiou

MORE than 700 patients, including 100 life-threatening cases, have benefited from the Mount Gambier Patient Transfer Facility in its first year of operation.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service has facilitated 586 operational flights since the facility was commissioned at Mount Gambier Regional Airport in June last year.

RFDS Central Operations chairman Peter de Cure revealed the site’s impact on improving patient safety and comfort in front of stakeholders and community members who attended a special launch event on Tuesday.

Whilst the event formally recognised the 800 plus individuals and businesses that donated to the project, it was also a chance to show the public how the facility services the community.

Guests remained dry and in relative warmth, as the barometer hovered around 11 degrees, rained and blew a frigid south easterly wind.

RFDS South and Central Australia operations manager Anthony Pryzibilla believes the transfer facility has been a welcome boon to the safety and comfort of both patients and medical staff.

“Providing a facility like this allows staff and patients to be cared for in an environment that’s out of the weather. It’s well lit, the temperatures are right… a facility like this allows you to manage unpredictable scenarios in a much safer environment,” he said.

“So it’s a big change from where we were, prior to this facility, where we did air side transfers in the rain, wind and heat. It allows us now to service those patients in this community a lot better.”

RFDS Mount Gambier Support Group president Bill Russon agrees.

“It’s an essential part of giving humane, decent treatment to people… delivering patients timely, comfortable hospital care from the regions,” he said.

Mr Russon, together with the RFDS Mount Gambier Support Group were critical in the fundraising efforts behind the Mount Gambier Patient Transfer Facility.

And whilst Mr Russon felt it was too early to announce any future plans to the facility, he is eager to see more work done on the building to expand its capabilities.

The RFDS has another five patient transfer facilities planned for other regional locations, including the Riverland and Kangaroo Island.

Mr de Cure believes funding would follow a similar model to that of Mount Gambier – which was predominantly funded by the local community and businesses, with grants and support from local government and corporate sponsorship.

Mr de Cure is also open to state government support.

“We’ll obviously be seeking sponsorship. We’re working with, in particular, the state government, in terms of what they might like to do, but largely, we’ll fundraise the money,” he said.