It feels like the calm before the storm. We’ve had 17 confirmed cases across the Kimberley’s. 2 from the cruise ships. If it spreads here it will be bad. Really bad.
I’m a GP. After two years at the Neighbourhood Clinic I packed my car and spent 3 weeks driving from Melbourne to work in an aboriginal health service in the Kimberley.
Right now we are coming into the best time of year. The wet season is ending. The grass is a spectacular green, kites swooping overhead looking for prey, kids are playing in the streets, the boab trees sway in the breeze, the rivers are full and waterfalls are spectacular.
But we’re also in the same levels of lockdown as Melbourne.
The roads to Broome and the Gibb river are closed. Toilet paper has sold out. We’re not allowed to go out camping or hiking. People are being told to stay in their communities away from the major centres to decrease the spread.
As doctors our load is mixed. We do some in town stuff, some driving to communities and some flying to more remote communities.
We see a lot of people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure etc as well as a high load of infectious diseases.
Both of which are concerning were COVID19 to break out.
Chronic conditions because the sufferers of them seem more at risk of death if they contract the virus. Infectious diseases because their prevelance here is due to the large cross generational family numbers in one household. COVID19 presents a significant public health challenge
The other challenges here are more generational and institutional. Rates of domestic violence and violence generally increases in times of stress across all societies. Throw in years of instituitional abuse, multi generational trauma, financial oppression and then alcohol and other drugs… and the recipe isn't looking great.
Personally there have been highs and lows. Making new friends when in lockdown isn’t easy and it is difficult to switch off from work when all my favourite podcasters and journalists and friends and family want to talk about it.
But I am lucky.
I love making pottery and they’ve let us make things from home and then use the kilns at the TAFE. My painting has also stepped up a few notches.
And the other incredible thing is that I still fly over the most amazing landscapes to go to communities, the creeks and the waterfalls are full and flowing due to the rains, animals are everywhere, people smiling.
We just have to hope it stays contained.