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Top End Doctor - 6. Dr Chapter 6

“What changes are you making to the yacht?” Toby asked, “We are converting the main salon’s formal dining area into two treatment rooms, with a central passageway, you will understand it better when we go down to the yacht tomorrow,” Uncle James replied.

The following morning after breakfast, while Tim went to work as usual, Uncle James and us boys headed back to the marina, where the crew are expecting our arrival. When we stepped onto the yacht and walked up to the main deck, we were shocked to see that a lot of the furniture that was in the saloon, was now on the aft deck, leaving the aft half of the saloon a bare open space.

“I like what you have done with the place,” Angela commented, and a laugh from Tracy as they arrived in the room, “Yes I was going for the bare minimal look,” Uncle James responded, which had them laughing some more. “Ok, so now you have stripped the place bare what is your plans?” Angela asked. “I am wanting to make it so it can be put back the way it was, without too much hassle, so we will need to have partitions of some kind that can be removed,” Uncle James replied.

“What about using double smoke glazed sliding and stacking doors, that way you can still have them in place, when you have had enough of it being a medical clinic, and when you have it partially closed, it will give a distinction of what areas are for, instead of having it open plan,” Angela suggested, “Yes I like that idea, will you come with me, to look at what options are available,” Uncle James said.

“By the way, we are on the Darwin Social Scene Facebook page, it appears that our guests had a wonderful time and they are encouraging others to check the yacht out, when it begins charters” Angela announced, “Really, well we will have to consider that too, but one project at a time for now I think. Tracy would you mind if the boys stay here,” Uncle James said. “Yes uncle, we will be fine here,” Toby said in a manner in fact way, and we headed upstairs to the panorama lounge.

Tracy brought up some drinks and snacks for us half way through the morning, and we soon polished them off. “By the way, I washed your dirty clothes today, and they are folded in your bags,” Tracey called out as she was leaving.

“Oh, thanks, you didn’t need to do that, we would have done it ourselves, eventually,” I replied, “it was my pleasure, you just have to ask, and it will be done,” Tracy replied, as we headed up the main stairs again. Before lunch, Toby and I headed up to the sky deck to enjoy the spa for a short while, before Tracy called us down to the aft bridge deck to have some lunch.

Angela and Uncle James returned at about 2 pm, with bags full of supplies, “Wow, it looks like you have both been busy,” I commented, when we saw them arrive, from our view point on the bridge deck. “Yes, we found a great medical supplies store in Coconut Grove, and it turns out that Angela here is a qualified Paramedic, which will come handy, we will store them in your cabins downstairs for now,” Uncle James replied.

We met up with uncle James in the lobby on the main deck, so we could speak to him. “We have found what we want for the main saloon area, with two lots of sliding and stacking doors with smoked glass, which they will be installing in three days’ time, plus some other supplies will be delivered the following day after that, so we will be well on our way to being set for work.

“The guest spa and massage area, located off the swim platform will also be used for this project, to be used as a laboratory area, so when it is set up, it will be off limits for you boys,” Uncle James informed us. When the two deckhands arrived, Uncle James turned to speak to them, “These bags and boxes can you take them down to one of the empty crew cabins, please.” Uncle James said.

Over the six days, the Spa area and the main saloon were transformed into a lab and two medical clinic rooms, with examination tables, and all the required equipment and supplies for observation, recording, and treating injuries and medical conditions. The stackable sliding doors, work really well, and provide the required privacy for medical examinations. When not at the yacht supervising the changes, Uncle James was at the hospital finishing his last week of required shifts, before he takes some leave, to work on this project.

The deckhands, Lance and Dean were given a few duties to do each day, then they had the time to go and explore more of Darwin and its surrounds, while Tracy and Angela, were keen to be part of this project and helped out where they could. At the end of the week, on the Saturday evening, as the family and crew sat down for dinner, on the aft dining area on the upper deck, Uncle James informed us of what he had been doing during the day, and discussing ideas about the project.

He had informed us that both the Northern Land Council and the Tiwi Regional Council had given full approval with entry permits, for the yacht and its crew and any medical staff, to visit each of the four main communities on the islands, to provide medical care to these communities. Uncle James mentioned that he had been in contact with the only doctor on the islands, who are located at Wurrumiyanga on the South East corner of Bathurst Island, while a small health clinic is located at Milikapiti on the Central North coast of Melville Island, the furthest Tiwi Islands community to Darwin, and they are pleased to hear of this new service starting soon, as their staff and resources are often stretched to the limits.

Angela and Tracy, plus the Tomkins lads had agreed to stay with the yacht, till at least the end of the dry season in September, when it starts to get into the build-up season from October till December, which meant that Uncle James could rely on them to assist with the project for the next eight months.

Uncle James showed us a small leaflet that he had been circulating around staff areas of the public and private hospitals, asking if any Doctors, nurses, dentists or psychologists were prepared to provide some of their spare time, skills, to assist with providing a free medical service to remote aboriginal communities in the North Territory.

“You have heard of Doctors without Borders, now we have the Territory Medical Mission,” was the headline of the leaflet. “To Serve the Medical Needs of Remote Communities of the Northern Territory is our mission. We are a non-religious, non-government organisation, so please think about giving us some of your spare time, come and join our team as a medical volunteer. We will take care of your living and dietary needs, Give us a call.”

“I like it, brief, to the point and catchy, I think you will have a medical team real soon,” Angela said to Uncle James, after reading it. “It was my dear husband who came up with the name and the mission statement, and he has helped me set up the organisation, which I would like you two ladies to be part of the board of Directors, along with us,” Uncle James announced.

Tracy and Angela looked at each other for a moment, and together they said “Agreed, but only till the end of the dry season,” and Uncle James accepted this condition. “Good, I have already diverted some funds from the Yacht operations account, to open our new venture, and we will be getting the credit cards linked to that account any day now,” Tim announced.

“Lance and Dean, you have been fairly quiet these last few days, we would like your opinion, since you are both part of the yacht’s crew,” Uncle James asked, “Well sir, we have been talking about it the last few nights actually, and we love the life here in the Territory, so we would like to keep our jobs with you for as long as possible,” one of the lads responded.

“That is very good new, welcome to the team. Apart from your deck duties, you may be required to assist with collecting ii town, or delivering supplies, between the three medical examination rooms, which we have already kitted out with most of the equipment that we need. I think we will need to have a dedicated supply store room that is lockable, does anyone have any suggestions?” Uncle James asked.

The forward storage locker on the lower deck isn’t being used often, with plenty of shelving space, and it is lockable too,” Tracy suggested, good, we will clear it out, and give it a thorough clean and disinfecting, before we start putting medical supplies in there,” Uncle James said.

“I will be happy to do that job, being a paramedic, I know all about keeping storage space sterile,” Angela said, “Excellent, we are making good progress, that will do for tonight, I think. At breakfast tomorrow, I may have a list of duties for everyone, so lets’ all get some rest,” Uncle James announced.

As Toby and I were getting ready for bed back at home, we heard someone’ s mobile ring, and it sounded like Uncle James’s voice answering the call, as we wondered who was calling so late, not that he is on leave, to concentrate on the project. The next morning, we headed to the private dining room for some breakfast, since we no longer have a main dining room, and we found everyone except the deck crew already down there.

“I’ve told everyone else, I just wanted to let you boys know that I may have a Nursing Manager for the project, she will be here in less than an hour for a interview, and we will decide, if she would be suitable or not,” Uncle James informed us. “What are you going to do for accommodating all of the medical staff” I asked.

“Tim and I were discussing that last night actually, the Nursing Director who we hope will be with us long term, will have the mini suite on the Boat deck,, and if we get other doctors, he or she can have the double cabins on the Boat deck, while nurses can use the small twin cabins,” Uncle James announced.

“Well, it sounds like we are almost ready to launch the project,” Tracy said, as she stood to start clearing the breakfast dishes, “Leave it, we will do that for you,” Toby said as he gave my sleeve a tug, to join him, and together we soon had the dirty dishes into the galley, rinsed and placed in the dishwasher.

When the lady came for the interview, it caught everyone by surprise that she was indigenous women, and both Toby and I listened into the conversation, that Tim, Uncle James and Angela were having with the lady, whose name is Charmaine Quinn, who is only ¼ Aboriginal, with her mother being a white Australian women, who while she was growing up, was encouraged to learn everything about her indigenous side of the family, as well as getting a good education.

Charmaine is a registered nurse with a Master’s degree in Clinical Nursing, a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and a Graduate Diploma in Mental Health. She mentioned that she has only worked part time for the past fifteen years, but now that her two children are grown up and now attending university themselves, and with her being widowed for the past two years, she said that she was ready for a new challenge.

“Well Charmaine, I don’t know about the rest of the team, but I am happy with your qualifications, if you are happy to take on the position of Nursing Manager, which is not a volunteer position. We are prepared to give you a small stipend, plus free accommodation and food, until we get a bit more financial,” Tim said to the lady.

“Well, I am surprised by that, as I thought that it would be just a volunteer position, but yes I will accept the position, so where exactly will we be working from and what area of the Northern Territory?” Charmaine asked.

Copyright © March 2020 Preston Wigglesworth. All Rights Reserved.
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Awesome chapter. I love that the boat has been turned into the Territory Medical Mission, it will prove very useful. They have a great crew and and are looking for nurse's and doctors to join the mission.

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Excellent chapter, wow I never expected things to move forward so quickly, exciting times ahead

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Nice to hear that there are other medical facilities in these areas, because the ship won't be able to do everything for everyone. (James is asking for volunteers, and there's no guarantee as to what specialties will be represented--e.g, will there be a pediatrician? Gynecologist? Orthopod?)  Also, no mention has been made of an x-ray facility; and while such a facility would be invaluable, retrofitting a salon, or portion of a salon, to be impervious to x-rays would be prohibitively expensive. Rather, the ship will be a superb adjunct to the medical services already in place! 

Edited by travlbug
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You have done your usual excellent job of describing the vessel and the changes made to use it as a medical facility, but I am waiting for the personalities of the various members of the family and the crew to be developed as well. With all those personalities, I am sure some conflicts will develop, Q.

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What an amazing use of the Yacht to serve as medical facilities for the Aboriginal Communities of Australia 

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loved the idea to have an Aboriginal involved in the medical project 🙂 

excellent chapter 👍

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