1 March 2024

TCHHS team put best foot forward to help patients

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Travel team with thongs basket

The TCHHS travel team put together a basket of thongs for patients that need shoes to board a flight back to their Cape York and Torres Strait communities. Photo: Supplied.

Imagine being flown out of your community in a medical emergency with almost nothing but the clothes on your back, and then being turned away from boarding a flight home because you have no shoes on.

This is the exact situation that inspired the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service (TCHHS) travel team to donate over 60 pairs of thongs to Mookai Rosie Bi-Bayan, an patient accommodation partner in Cairns.

TCHHS travel operations supervisor Shane Luki said the team reached out to Mookai Rosie for what they needed most, and thongs were one of the main items on the list.

“Part of living in community is they live on the land and they don’t normally wear shoes, so when they come down, sometimes they come down without shoes,” Ms Luki said.

“That’s sort of what sparked our interest to help, because being the travel team, we’ve had a lot of communication where many haven’t been able to board due to not having shoes, and we’ve had to reschedule flights and organise someone to pick up some sort of shoes for them.”

She explained that getting turned away when trying to return home exacerbated an already stressful situation.

“When [patients] are medevaced, they are medevaced with pretty much nothing,” Ms Luki explained.

“It just becomes a real hard experience for them, and sometimes they’re not ready for that.

“A lot of them that haven’t come down for appointments before or been medevaced down, so they don’t realise it’s something you need.”

Mookai Rosie Bi-Bayan is an organisation that provides health services and accommodation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families from Cape York and the Torres Strait who need to travel to Cairns for medical purposes.

“They’re often having to go the extra mile to ensure that patients are ready to return home,” Ms Luki said.

“This is a way to provide them with a helping hand, so they don’t always have to go that extra mile.”

The donation was funded entirely by members of the travel team, who are keen to continue this initiative following its positive impact.

“We’ve got a basket at Mookai now and we can continue to top it up,” Ms Luki said.

“We would like to extend it to other accommodation providers like the Red Cross as well, and see if they would be interested.

“We always like to reach out to particularly our accommodation providers and see what the needs are, because they look after our patients.

“It’s purely voluntary donations from our travel team and not something we pressure anyone into doing, just a service that we wanted to do to extend our hand to help someone.”

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