Sick patients have been airlifted off Mornington Island as Tropical Cyclone Nora inches closer to the region.
The cyclone is undergoing rapid intensification, and has recently increased its rate of movement.
Nora has started taking a more southeasterly track, heading towards the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Health services in the region have escalated to the next phase of their Disaster Management Plan.
North West Hospital and Health Service CEO Lisa Davies Jones said the disaster plan has three phases: Alert, Lean Forward and Stand Up.
“During the Alert/Lean Forward phase, the situation and potential threat of the cyclone will continue to be monitored but we also move our health service and facilities into a state of operational readiness,’’ Ms Davies Jones said.
She said every health facility in the North West had individual emergency management plans in place and all staff members were familiar with these.
Emergency management plans have been activated for Mornington Island, Karumba, Normanton and Burketown.
“In these communities, we have done an assessment of potentially vulnerable people who may be adversely affected by lack of access to ongoing medical services,’’ Ms Davies Jones said.
“These include patients such as those who have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), are on renal dialysis, are elderly and live alone, or who have limited mobility.
“They are not inpatients but clients living independently in the community but who are dependent on daily or near-daily access to medical services,” she said.
“At this stage, we have identified that the highest risk is for vulnerable clients in the communities of Mornington Island and Karumba”
Four people were airlifted from Mornington Island to Mount Isa today.
“In the meantime, Mornington Island Hospital, Karumba Primary Health Clinic and Normanton Hospital will continue to operate as normal and will remain staffed throughout,” Ms Davies Jones said.
“Emergency generators at all our health facilities are fully operational and have stocks of fuel for several days.
“Our facilities are also well stocked with several days’ worth of food and medical supplies,” she said.
“We have prepared our emergency communication channels using satellite phones and are encouraging staff not to undertake any unnecessary travel. We have encouraged residents in our communities to make sure they have enough medicines available to last them a week or so.”
Post-cyclone recovery plans are also in place to move relieving clinical staff and repair and maintenance teams quickly around the region to any affected facilities where they might be needed following the cyclone.
“All in all, all our health facilities are as prepared as they possibly can be for this cyclone,’’ Ms Davies Jones said.
For cyclone preparedness and safety advice, visit Queensland's Disaster Management Services website www.disaster.qld.gov.au