Open letter from CEO Renee Blackman and Chairperson Shaun Solomon

Posted April 17, 2020

This is an open letter from our CEO Renee Blackman and Chairperson Shaun Solomon in regards to Gidgee Healing COVID-19 response.



Dear Community

We as a community are facing a crisis that is COVID-19 or Coronavirus. As Gidgee healing we are
working hard to ensure we play our part with our Hospital and Health services to keep our
communities safe from the spread of this virus.

Our main priority is to make sure this virus does not spread so we need to take precautions.
You will have seen advice on precautions, which is very important to slow the spread of the virus:

  • Please – STAY AT HOME, do not go out unless you have to
  • If you need to go out practice social distancing i.e. 1.5m to 2m from another person
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds on a very regular basis with antiseptic hand wash or soap
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow and if you used a tissue dispose of it in the bin after use

Gidgee healing must respond quickly as the virus moves quickly. So you will note some changes to
the way we serve you as a patient or client. Our reasons for change meets three very important

1. The safety of you, your families and your communities – As Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander people we are in a high risk group. If we catch this virus especially if we have
another illness and especially if we are over 50 the outcome is not good.

2. The safety of our Gidgee staff – Over 65% of our workforce as Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander people many of them also have other illnesses and are over 50; those people are
now working from home.

3. The continuation of Gidgee services with minimal community contact to stop the spread of
the virus – it is our responsibility as a health service to make sure that you and your families
have safe access to doctors, nurses and health workers during this time. As coronavirus is
easily spread some of the usual ways we see you must change as a precaution.

So what has changed?

Gidgee Non-essential services have stopped: Our allied health teams, our programs and some of
our community engagement face to face interactions have had to stop. We are working through
different ways to connect with you soon.

Mount Isa has 1 clinic only: Gidgee are now operating our Mt Isa clinic through our Pioneer location
(near Harvey Norman) only. Please note the coronavirus has forced us into a different way of
welcoming you to clinic.

Normanton Clinic: Gidgee are now working in a different way due to coronavirus precautions and
you will be welcomed in a different way to our clinic.

Gidgee Numbers:

0436 487 057
0447 191 273
0436 924 496

North West HHS (Mt Isa Hospital)

07 4744 4000

Doomadgee Clinic: Because we share the clinic with Qld Health community health, we are making
sure we are following hospital guidelines. Our doors will be closed but we are open. You will just
need to be screened before you are welcomed into clinic.

Mornington Island Clinic: Because we share our Gidgee clinic space with the hospital we have
agreed that there only be one point of entry. Gidgee on Mornington Island is not closed. We are
inside the building if you need us.

Normanton Recovery Centre: We currently have limited staff and are open but not taking any new
admissions at this point, but are caring for the residents we still have.

Family Wellbeing: We are changing our service delivery in Mt Isa and Normanton to less face to face
contact with a visit only in an emergency.

headspace: We are changing our service delivery in Mt Isa from face to face contact to via phone or
video conference. Face to face contact will only be used in an emergency. The headspace staff will
provide information on how to contact support should you need it.

Gidgee health with the hospital are working as hard as we can to provide the services you need. I am
sure everyone realises the reasons why we must practice strong precautions during this pandemic.
We know this is a big change for people but we are all trying our best to get you the best
information in the safest way possible so a couple of tips from us –

Pay attention to your community notice boards – health services are sending information to be
posted up for you

Check out Qld Govt, Qld Health and Gidgee Facebook pages for up to date information about
coronavirus in our region and also correct precautions

Listen to MOBFM and Blackstar Radio – we are broadcasting information as well as other health
information. These messages are regular and current.

Gidgee Healing and the Hospital numbers sms OR telephone:

Shaun and I hope that you are all staying safe and well. Don’t forget to call us or text if you have
questions about coronavirus or anything else we can help you with.


Renee Blackman, CEO
Shaun Solomon, Chairperson