PATIENTS across the Cape should be able to get a CT scan in Weipa by Christmas, according to Queensland Health.
The million-dollar machine is expected to be installed in the coming months after the job was put out to tender by the state government.
The CT scanner will be the first of its kind in Cape York as a result of a landmark partnership between Rio Tinto, Old Mapoon Aboriginal Coporation and the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service.
OMAC chair Geraldine Mamoose said it was the corporation’s first major contribution project and that the long-term aim would be to have local Aboriginal people operating the equipment in the hospital.
“It is important that we are developing the skills of our people to operate this equipment,” she said.
“ We don’t want to always be relying on people from outside our community to be running our hospital. We wanted to support the hospital to provide those opportunities.”
Director Cameron Hudson added: “When this project was first presented to the board, it was a no-brainer for OMAC to support it.
“The decision was unanimous. We want to lead our community into a bright future with appropriate levels of healthcare, and we won’t be waiting around for the government to provide everything.”
TCHHS director of Western Medical Services, Nick Cairns, welcomed the partnership with Rio Tinto and OMAC.
“The new CT scanner means between 40 and 50 patients a month from Weipa and the wider region of the Cape and Torres Strait will no longer need to travel out of the region for clinical investigation,” he said.
“With the scanner on site, our doctors and visiting specialists can perform more services here in Weipa.
“The addition of the CT scanner to our radiography services is a significant step forward for the region’s health services.”
Rio Tinto Weipa’s acting general manager Brad Welsh said at the announcement that additional health services benefited the whole Cape community, not just the mining company.
“Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our people and communities in which we live and operate, so we are pleased to be able to help locals access advanced health services without needing to leave their community,” he said.
“We are proud to champion a partnering mindset here in Weipa and we strongly value the many long-standing partnerships we have throughout the Western Cape.”
OMAC CEO Robyn Bartlett said the partnership would lead to further opportunities.
“The partnerships we have built with TCHHS and Rio Tinto Weipa through the CT scanner project have led to some rich conversations about future opportunities,” she said.
“I am a believer in the power of partnerships and that working together delivers the best results for a wider audience.”
Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said Rio Tinto pledged $1 million and OMAC committed $150,000 towards the $2.5 million project, with the state government funding the remainder.