Western Queensland Primary Health Network (WQPHN) and CheckUP
are funding Diabetes Queensland to help clients and health
professionals get regular access to the latest diabetes care and
People living in Western Queensland have the lowest life
expectancy in the state and are 1.9 times more likely to die from
diabetes compared with people living elsewhere in Queensland.
This partnership has developed fly in-fly out or, in some
locations, drive in-drive out services that see diabetes educators
regularly visiting Roma, Charleville, Mount Isa, Cloncurry, St
George and Cunnamulla.
Credentialled Diabetes Educators (CDEs) and Accredited
Practicing Dietitians Polly Antees, Helen d'Emden and Helen
Jackson, and CDEs and Registered Nurses Laura Zimmerman and Nicole
McClure, are delivering the services.
"Even though I grew up on the coast, all I wanted to do was work
out West," Polly said, who has worked in remote regions for most of
"Working as a health professional in these areas is so
"Regional Queenslanders are stoic so they don't tend to pay too
much attention to small changes in their health. With diabetes,
that can lead to serious complications.
"One inexpensive lifestyle change that we can talk with them
about, such as reducing their alcohol intake, can make a world of
Polly tells the story of one client who
refused to tell her how much he drank because he didn't want to lie
"I suggested he halved his current intake. The next time I saw
him he said he was feeling a lot better every morning and had more
energy to go for a walk.
"He'd also lost 10cm from his waist."
Polly said their team know Western Queenslanders won't be told
what to do.
"We just suggest ideas so they can modify their lifestyle to
improve their blood glucose levels."
The visiting CDEs are working from general practices, which
makes it easier for patients to see diabetes educators, while
connecting local health professionals with the visiting Diabetes
WQPHN Diabetes Program Manager, Kathleen O'Hara, said the
expertise of Diabetes Queensland educators is helping people living
with diabetes in Western Queensland while also providing support
and training to local health practitioners.
"We are working to get the right health professional to the
right patient at the right time to avoid people developing
"We want to increase the opportunity for people with diabetes to
see a diabetes educator in their local community."
Polly tells the story of one client who drove 400km to Mount Isa
to see the diabetes educator. The station he worked on allowed him
to have the day off to "pop into town" for the visit.
"This client now has a phone consult once a fortnight and sends
his blood glucose levels via text messages to the Diabetes
Queensland CDE for review," Polly said.
"He now combines his visit to town with seeing his GP, CDE and
going to the pathology lab, all in the one building.
"The GP and CDE discuss changes and possible treatment options
before the client drives 400km home."