10 March 2024

Weipa patient reunites with staff after life-saving scan

| Cape York Weekly
Start the conversation

Weipa resident Barbara “Flo” McConnell is reunited with Weipa Hospital senior medical officer Dr Brock Newtown after her emergency evacuation to Townsville. Photo: Supplied.

A well-known Weipa resident has praised the availability of a local computed tomography (CT) scan and the expertise of health staff in Weipa and Townsville for saving her life after being diagnosed with an aneurysm.

Barbara McConnell – known by everyone as Flo – attended the Weipa Hospital emergency department in November 2023 with a crippling headache.

The CT scan showed the cause of Ms McConnell’s pain was a bleeding aneurysm, an emergency diagnosis that required immediate evacuation to the Townsville University Hospital.

Once on the ground in Townsville, she was treated by the hospital’s interventional neuroradiology service, a pioneering non-surgical treatment for brain aneurysm and clots in the brain caused by stroke.

Ms McConnell said the pain in her head had come from nowhere.

“I had been singing in the kitchen that morning before I started suffering a severe headache,” she explained.

“I called my husband, initially believing I was just dehydrated, but my husband said he found me slumped at the kitchen table and insisted we go to hospital.”

READ ALSO CT scanner arrives at Weipa Hospital

The 66-year-old, who runs an accommodation house in Weipa with her husband, has since paid tribute to medical staff in Weipa and Townsville, as well as the Royal Flying Doctor Service, for saving her life.

“Everybody was all around absolutely fabulous,” Ms McConnell said.

“They were kind and caring and wonderful.

“The availability of the CT scanner in Weipa and the information provided by local doctors had likely been a huge benefit to Townsville staff.

“They didn’t need to take another scan in Townsville, they just went right in with the information sent from Weipa.’’

The Weipa scanner has completed almost 2,100 scans since going into operation in June 2021, and the hospital’s senior medical officer, Dr Brock Newtown, said it had been a game changer for local diagnostic options.

“Barbara presented with a severe headache that was very sudden in onset,” he said.

“It reached its maximum severity instantly [and] that is a red flag for us for the potential of a bleed on the brain.

“This was very much a medical emergency.

“We are really fortunate in Weipa to have a great group of clinicians, including doctors with advanced skills in anaesthetics and emergency, which means appropriate care can be provided until the transfer takes place.”

Start the conversation

Cape York Weekly

Subscribe to get the latest edition of Cape York Weekly in your inbox each Monday.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Cape York Weekly's terms and conditions and privacy policy.