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Cape York health facilities survive cyclone with little damage

12 April 2014

Cape York Hospital and Health Service (HHS) facilities have escaped any serious damage from Cyclone Ita.

"Given the intensity of the storm, we have been extremely lucky insofar as our health facilities are concerned," Cape York HHS Acting Chief Executive Dr Jill Newland said.

"Our staff at all our facilities have been magnificent throughout this event and I must pay every tribute to them and their dedication in getting their facilities prepared for this extreme storm."

Dr Newland said the Cooktown Multi-Purpose Health Service had suffered no structural damage to any of its primary building, including the hospital itself, the aged care unit or the renal dialysis unit.

"We have lost a roof on one of the outlying storage sheds, along with some minor damage to some other sheds, and we have fences down and debris scattered about but remarkably little damage overall," she said.

"We currently have five inpatients and 10 aged care residents at the hospital and they are all well cared for and in good spirits."

Dr Newland said the hospital had been operating on generator power since early yesterday and would continue to do so until mains power was restored.

She said the hospital also had lost mains water supply in the early hours of this morning but this supply had since been restored fully. She said while the hospital remained closed for routine business, it was open for any emergency cases.

"I am happy to say that all our other facilities in the cyclone's path, including the Hopevale, Laura and Wujal Wujal primary health care centres, also all appear to have escaped with little, if any, damage," she said.

"Laura reports no problems at all, as does Wujal Wujal except for a higher than expected tidal surge which has flooded some low-lying areas.

"We have not been able to make contact with Hopevale but this is related to overall communication problems and not to any untoward events in the community. "We have heard through police sources that the Hopevale community and our primary health care centre there appear to be relatively undamaged.

"I think we can all be very thankful that we have come out of this severe weather event as well as we have done so far. "We are now currently moving into the recovery and clean-up phase.

"We have contracted the services of a Weipa-based, five-seat helicopter and, depending on weather conditions; we will be looking at sending a team of maintenance people across to the Eastern Cape from the Western Cape.

"The helicopter will stop at Hopevale first to ensure everything is alright there and then proceed to Cooktown to help with the clean-up and minor repairs there.

"At this stage, we hope that we will be able to start returning progressively back to business as usual at the Cooktown MPHS and the Laura, Hopevale and Wujal Wujal primary health care centres by Monday or Tuesday."


Last updated: 11 June 2014