Meet the staff going the extra mile for patients in rural communities

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Katrina Lacy, Suzanne Parker, Samantha Brasher

Katrina Lacy, Suzanne Parker, Samantha Brasher

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Covering an area of around 90,000 square kilometres, Darling Downs Health helps patients from all corners of Southern Queensland.

But long-distance travel doesn’t come cheap for those needing care, which is where the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme (PTSS) team steps in.

The scheme helps with travel and accommodation costs for patients who need to use specialist medical services that aren't available in their local area.

District Travel Officer Samantha Brasher said she’s seen the demand for the service skyrocket.

“With the rising costs of living and petrol, I know many people are doing it tough,” Ms Brasher said.

“We are seeing an increase of around 100 new applications for PTSS each week. That’s people who have never used the scheme before.”

“In the past month, our team has processed a phenomenal 7,000 claims for patients across the Darling Downs.”

But the record-breaking rise in demand also means a rise in reward for staff who know they’re making a difference.

“If the work my team does can help relieve stress and burden for our locals, in reaching their medical appointments, then every little task I do to support the team is well worth it,” Travel Services Manager, Suzanne Parker said.

“I am so proud to be a part of a team of caring and dedicated staff who can assist our locals with financial assistance in reaching their appointments, a small part of a very large journey that they are faced with.”

Patient Travel Administration Officer Katrina Lacy also sees the impact of the scheme every day.

“It can be a very demanding role sometimes, but for the most part it’s extremely rewarding, especially when I can hear the relief and appreciation in the voices of the patients and their families because I have helped to make a difficult time a little easier for them.”

“Although I may not be on the frontline of the healthcare system, I know that I am still making a difference for these patients and their families, even if it is only a small difference,” Ms Lacy said.

Staff are asking the public to please be patient with them as they work hard, and sometimes on weekends, to process travel subsidies as quickly as possible.

If you live in a rural and remote area, and have to travel more than 50 km to a public hospital to access services that aren’t available to you locally, you may be eligible for the Patient Travel Subsidy Scheme.

For more information visit www.qld.gov.au/health/services/travel/subsidies