21 May 2024

Red ribbon drops to celebrate return of Wujal Wujal health services

| Lyndon Keane
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Senior health worker Anna Cleary, TCHHS chair Renee Williams, Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council Mayor Alister Gibson, Elder Kathleen Walker and Member for Cook Cynthia Lui cut the ribbon to mark the official opening of the community’s temporary clinic. Photo: Supplied.

A red ribbon symbolised rebirth when stakeholders celebrated the official return of health services to Wujal Wujal on 14 May.

A temporary modular clinic was installed in the community after its previous clinic was decimated by post-Tropical Cyclone Jasper flooding in December 2023, with last week’s formal opening ceremony signalling the return of doctor clinics, specialist and outpatient services, as well as allied health and midwifery outreach clinics.

The temporary clinic will remain in place while the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service (TCHHS) works with the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council and other stakeholders over the coming months to develop options for a future permanent clinic to replace the old, flood-damaged facility.

Minister for Health, Mental Health, and Ambulance Services Shannon Fentiman said the State Government was “dedicated to providing the same high-quality levels of health care service to Wujal Wujal and the surrounding communities as prior to the flooding event”.

“I want to thank the community for its patience and the Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council for working closely with [TCHHS] to get services back up and running as quickly as possible,” she said.

“We will continue to support the Wujal Wujal and surrounding communities and ensure they are provided with the resources and services they need as they continue to rebuild after the flooding.’’

READ ALSO Modular response to revive Wujal Wujal health services

Member for Cook Cynthia Lui said the return of local health services was critical to Wujal Wujal’s recovery.

“Resuming the health, social and emotional wellbeing services people need in community is critical, and I celebrate and thank the many people who have been working tirelessly to make this happen,” she said.

Following the ribbon cutting, director of nursing Vince Connellan said he believed residents of Wujal Wujal and surrounding communities could now return from months of displacement confident there was again local medical support.

“These communities can now feel safe to return home and also feel confident that services are finally back close to home where they belong,” he said.

Due to the size of the new modular clinic, medical imaging and dental services

are still limited, and will be provided from Cooktown in the interim.

The temporary clinic does also not have capacity for an onsite morgue, but a TCHHS spokesperson said culturally and clinically safe transfers would occur until burials could take place locally.

Elder Kathleen Walker provides a welcome to Country ahead of the official opening of the temporary Wujal Wujal health clinic on 14 May. Photo: Supplied.

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