Mount Isa was the envy of Australia last week when its local health services represented the nation on a call with the British royal family brokered by the International Council of Nurses.
In honour of International Nurses and Midwives Day the Queen and other members of the royal family spoke to nurses across the world including India, Malawi, Cyprus, the Bahamas and Sierra Leone, as well as three people in Mount Isa.
Gidgee Healing CEO Renee Blackman was joined by Gidgee Healing Nurse Tahnia-Maree Ah Kit and Registered Nurse with NWHHS Lee West on the call.
Ms Blackman said their involvement came through contact she had with an organisation called Nursing Now which is part of the International Council of Nurses which asked her to bring two other health professionals to talk about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health to what she thought would be an audience of nurses in England.
The people I was talking to here in Australia didn't know that we're going to be talking with the royal family and neither did I," Ms Blackman said.
"Only then they said to me, 'by the way you'll be part of the royal thank you to the health professionals of the world' and that's when I got a bit of a shock."
Only when she checked the Nursing Now website and found that the Duchess of Cambridge was one of the patrons did it make sense.
Ms Blackman admits to butterflies in advance but thought this was a great opportunity to showcase the north west health service and Gidgee Healing and how they were working to keep the region COVID free.
The call was scheduled for midnight but when Renee and the two nurses logged on to the Zoom call with the Countess of Wessex and the Duchess of Cambridge Renee saw an email and realised it was for 24 hours later.
"It was okay, it mean't we were all prepared when it was time," she said.
"We were told how to address them and that was the only guidance we were given. they really wanted the conversation to be natural."
Ms Blackman and the other two needed no prompting after they got over their nerves.
"Once we were confident about what we were talking about, we forgot who we were talking to," she said.
"They were fantastic to talk to and personable, it was easy to speak to them and they were interested in what we told them.
Ms Blackman had two main points to make on the call.
"One was how Aboriginal health organisations like Gidgee and the local health service work well together to help vulnerable people," she said.
"We understand if COVID came to the North West it would cause havoc so we are working hard with consistent messaging and sharing information.we lean on each other."
RELATED NEWS: Medical equipment donated to Mount Isa Hospital
The second item was about the potential for mental health fallout as people isolated.
"We wondered where was COVID going to take us, were we going to end up like China, America and Italy," she said.
"If we can keep it out of the north west we can give it our best shot.
"We are going to be strong on supporting our restrictions and our screening processes and test as many people as possible."
Gidgee Healing has modified its patient entry processes, screened before walking into a waiting room and if you had flu-like symptoms you'd be waiting in a different area.
As the restrictions slowly ease Ms Blackman said telehealth will be increasingly important in a post COVID world "even though we don't know what that world looks like yet".
While you are here subscribe to our twice weekly email to your inbox at every Tuesday and Friday