WHILE other miners have put up some big money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service in the west, Hancock Prospecting chairwoman Gina Rinehart has looked east, donating $6 million for critical care equipment and telehealth technology to help rural and remote Australians in New South Wales, Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Australia’ richest woman has been a longstanding advocate and benefactor of the RFDS in the footsteps of her mother Hope, who used to hold functions to raise funds for the service.
Rinehart told guests at the opening of RFDS Central Operations in December 2017 that she recalled helping her mother make “hundreds of sandwiches just prior to each of these events”.
The money will be spent on fitting out all aeromedical bases and all aircraft with life-saving medical equipment and providing portable automated external defibrillators and telehealth technologies for isolated communities, to help the crucial service build surge capacity to better respond to the emergency and primary health care needs of those in the country.
RFDS Central Operations CEO Tony Vaughan said the impact of Rinehart’s generous and immediate financial support would be far-reaching.
“The RFDS has an excellent baseline level of critical care equipment across its network to respond to rural and remote Australians, but we require more in order to have surge capacity to meet anything that comes our way,” he said.
“This includes ventilators, more cardiac monitors, IV infusion pumps and more point-of-care testing to enable aeromedical teams to serve every patient, on every aircraft or at any one of our locations across our vast RFDS network.
“Equally, at a time when those living in remote areas are feeling more isolated than ever due to COVID-19, we have the capacity to invest in state-of-the-art telehealth and in-situ point-of-care testing to partner with our high-risk patients to manage chronic disease and their mental health and wellbeing between our regular health clinics.”