SPONSORED: Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services (KAMS) confirmed Thursday there are no longer any active cases of COVID-19 in the Kimberley. With over 20 days since the last confirmed case, KAMS is pushing community to continue to be safe and careful.

KAMS CEO Vicki O’Donnell said despite the occurrence of COVID-19 cases in the Kimberley, KAMS is still dedicated to caring for the region in other ways.

“KAMS is continuing to provide comprehensive primary care including emergency and chronic conditions management for patients living in the community,” O’Donnell said.

“The continued delivery of these services, whilst ensuring the safety of our staff and community, has been possible through the resilience, community collaboration and hard work of the health care professionals in the area.

“KAMS was able to rapidly mobilise to form response teams across the organisation to enable quick feedback and implementation of new processes to keep our community safe and strong within our clinics.”

New processes have been implemented in clinics, including:

  • The triaging of patients for surveying of COVID-19 symptoms on arrival
  • Managing waiting periods and ensuring social distancing is respected in the waiting rooms
  • Offering telehealth and limiting the movement of staff in and out of community
  • Enforcing a two-week quarantine for Broome staff before entering communities.

O’Donnell said KAMS has had influence across various community decisions and guidelines, such as the establishment of weekly briefings with Kimberley Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and providing consistent briefings for all Kimberley health agencies delivering services to Aboriginal people.

KAMS has also assisted in the establishment of a Kimberley Aboriginal Taskforce which is chaired by the Kimberley Land Council. The taskforce will offer support and resources for remote communities in the region.

To further support the region, KAMS has partnered with the Kimberley Population Health Unit to provide staff support and has contributed to the COVID-19 Aboriginal Series of National Guidelines (SoNG) and the Western Australian Aboriginal Advisory Group for COVID-19 response.

KAMS has also continued to provide COVID-19 updates to community and organisations within the region as well as assist in the rolling out of rapid testing across the Kimberley.

“KAMS is actively collaborating with WACHS [WA Country Health Service], RFDS [Royal Flying Doctor Service], our Member Services and supporting organisations,” O’Donnell said.

“We are currently working hard together to minimise gaps in patient care and have joined forces to develop a comprehensive discharge planning process, to ensure there is a good handover of care, particularly when patients are going into a two-week period of quarantine prior to re-entering their community.”

“We are also collaborating to maximise telehealth opportunities for the provision of specialist appointments.”

O’Donnell said having no current cases is the product of direct collaboration between healthcare providers in the region.

Having no current COVID-19 active cases in the Kimberley has been a direct result of this collaboration between healthcare providers. And, while no further cases would be the best option, the reality is that we are dealing with a global pandemic that has spread rapidly all around the world.

“The action taken to protect community from positive cases and the fact we have seen no additional cases since 9 April is largely thanks to the rapid mobilisation of collaborative teams within the community.”

The Kimberley is also benefiting from its remote location and the government’s timely decision to close off the region and the state border.

“Government support and assistance for people needing to isolate without the resources to do so is also a great support in the Kimberley, with Department of Communities working with KAMS to provide assistance for community members unable to isolate at home or within their communities.”

KAMS is continuing to work with community to educate and ensure understanding of the necessary processes and regulations put in place for resident safety and protection from COVID-19.

“It’s really important that we don’t let our efforts slide, despite having no active cases. We are seeing positive results and now isn’t the time to get complacent,” O’Donnell said.

“Further to this, all medical services within the Kimberley continue to be offered … the opportunity for telehealth appointments to reduce face-to-face contact time. It’s really important that the community continues to receive care as required and keep up their regular appointments and treatments.”

KAMS wants people to be aware that the flu vaccine is currently being rolled out in all communities.

“KAMS clinics have been facilitating home visits and the vaccination has been rolled out much faster than usual, despite the current challenges. One of our clinics (Beagle Bay clinic) even managed to administer 140 vaccinations in the one day!”

“We are strongly recommending that all KAMS staff and community members go and get their flu shot as the added protection will be extra important this year.”

By Rachael Knowles