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Immersed in the community

- Featured Image

Family Doctor Week
Northern Territory – Dr Chris Clohesy

Being a GP who works in a clinic located 600kms east of Darwin well and truly qualifies you as a remote medical practitioner.

That is exactly what Dr Chris Clohesy is, treating patients in the Maningrida Health Clinic in the Northern Territory.

“This is an impoverished community of about 4,000 people, mostly Aboriginal. And it is an incredibly busy clinic,” Dr Clohesy said

“This is an awesome spot. It’s very lovely and the country is great. It’s coastal and it’s right on the edge of Kakadu.

“It is a ridiculously busy clinic. I am here by myself, the only doctor. Hopefully I will have a registrar soon. We have a team of seven though, with the nurses and others.

“Because this is a massively impoverished community, there are acute medical problems. Rheumatic fever is a big problem.

“The clinic has great nurses and great equipment, which makes treating people that much easier. But it can get totally nuts here. It’s so hectic.

“We get good support from Darwin. We also get med students come through and that’s great because we can put them to work.

“I get pulled from room to room by the nurses and then I squeeze in a few patients myself in between. Then there’s emergencies.

“The x-ray machine is so good to have. Maningrida is a real hot spot for radiation and it’s all coming from our clinic.

“I laugh a lot and am a bit jovial, but it is very stressful here.”

Everyone who knows Dr Clohesy, talk of him in glowing terms. He certainly keeps people laughing and he has an engaging personality. “He’s a lovely guy all round,” said one colleague.

He is also highly regarded for his professionalism and attention to detail.

Dr Clohesy has only been at Maningrida a couple of months, but he was working in another remote clinic directly before and has lived and worked in rural communities much of his career.

“I think I can deliver it better if I live in the community rather than FIFO (fly-in fly-out),” he said.

“All the primary health care and the emergencies are easier to handle if I’m living here and accepted by the community. And I have been really welcomed by this community. That makes me feel great.

 “I ran water for the footy grand final the other weekend – they play it hard core here.”