Banana Allied Health team on the move

21 March 2017

Banana residents have access to rapidly growing allied health services thanks to a team of new and enthusiastic health professionals at Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service (CQHHS).

Senior Occupational Therapist Kerri-Anne Von Deest said when she started work in Biloela two years ago the Banana region was covered by three allied health professionals; one occupational therapist, one speech pathologist and one physiotherapist.

Now there are two occupational therapists, two speech pathologists, two physiotherapists, a social worker, a dietician and three allied health assistants all changing lives for the better in Biloela, Baralaba, Moura and Theodore.

Improved ability to recruit, combined with successful funding applications has facilitated significant investment in allied health in the Banana region.

This now means that CQHHS Banana allied health has improved capacity to deliver care to inpatients, outpatients (post inpatient stay and following CQHHS medical specialist consultations/intervention) and early childhood developmental services.

Newly established permanent positions include allied health assistants, paediatric and subacute seniors.

Dani Morris is the first Advanced Allied Health Assistant employed in Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service. She is based in Biloela and is excited to be leading the way with the new service.

Allied Health Assistants Tanya Read (Baralaba) and Hannah Clancy (Moura and Theodore) are also part of the expanded team, starting work in February.

They’re all excited to provide support to their community and to be involved in the development of new roles, living and working in rural sites that rely on visiting allied health professionals.

They continue treatment prescribed by visiting allied health professionals with hospital inpatients and outpatients, which means faster outcomes and discharges and, more importantly, less travel for everyone involved.

The allied health assistants will also allow for expanded use of telehealth technology, linking allied health professionals with patients via video for therapy or assessment.

One of the more valuable services offered using this technology is assessment of dysphagia (swallowing difficulties) in speech pathology.

CQHHS Allied Health Team Leader for Gladstone-Banana Stuart Orr is extremely proud of the growing team and the members’ commitment to their patients and community.

“In my opinion our Gladstone and Banana Allied Health team combined for its size would have to be one of the most experienced regional allied health teams in this state, if not Australia,” he said. “I have a great team which I am proud to say is the best we have had in my 11 years of working with CQHHS.”

The team is also working with the Primary Healthcare Network to evaluate shared employment models to improve access to Allied Health services in all sectors.

A successful application has been made through Queensland Health’s Clinical Excellence Division whereby funding has been obtained for a two-year project between CQHHS and Sandra Corfield (CEO), and her team at Central Queensland Rural Health.

Triggered by a community forum in 2015, re limited access to allied health services, substantial work is being done between both organisations in partnership with the community to look at potential gaps, funding opportunities and employment models.

The aim of this project is to ensure that collaboration between organisations exists to improve recruitment and maximise access to services across organisations. This project will develop a community-based planning process for the delivery of allied health services in each community. To ensure the most effective services are delivered the key providers will be able to work across a number of organisations to ensure there is equitable access to allied health services across the shire. The project is in full swing, with various community members already involved. Further engagement is to be had with communities to ensure
the services meet their priority needs and that the communities are aware of all services provided either locally or within the Banana Shire.

In addition to this, allied health scholarships will be provided to allow organisations outside CQHHS to develop the role of the Allied Health Assistants. Telehealth options are to be developed for each community to ensure individuals and families can access services that can be supported from home or through organisations already providing support or health services.

If you would like more information about this project please contact Donna Johnson (Project Officer) on 49921040 or

(Back, from left) Speech Pathologist Emma Rewald, Advanced Allied Health Assistant Dani Morris, Dietician Taleisha Bennier, Speech Pathologist Amanda Devillers, (2nd back row) Allied Health Assistant Tanya Read, Occupational Therapist Kerri-Anne Von Deest, Allied Health Assistant Hannah Clancy (2nd front row) Allied Health Team Leader for Gladstone and Banana Stuart Orr, Social Worker Bronwyn Dendle, Physiotherapist Tamika Bowkett (front row) Occupational Therapist Dayna Lawrie and Physiotherapist Tanelle Chant.