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Cairns and Mareeba hospital staff treated Lotus Glen prisoners 649 times last year despite a medical facility being located at the Mareeba jail. These figures, from 1 January to 31 December 2013, showed health workers treated prisoners an average of 54 times each month in the two hospitals. The figures were confirmed by a Queensland Corrective Services spokeswoman.
Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Board Chairman Bob Norman said 37% of the patient transfers to hospitals were for kidney disease treatment. He said some of the strain on the public health system had been alleviated after a $100,000 dialysis machine was installed at the jail late last year.
'Occasionally there is a need to take people from Lotus Glen to other facilities for dialysis depending on how many dialysis patients the prison system has at any one time,' said Mr Norman. 'At one stage they were having to take prisoners as far as Mossman to get their dialysis,'
In most cases, patients who have started dialysis are eligible to be listed on the organ transplant list, according to Donate Life.
In 2008, 9,701 patients were on dialysis and 2,476 new patients entered treatment programs for end-stage kidney failure. In the same year, 1,298 patients were on the waiting list for transplants from deceased donors and about 460 kidneys became available. Only those with an 80% or greater chance of surviving five years are eligible for a transplant.
The other medical escorts resulted from more complex health issues. Inmates at Lotus Glen Correctional Centre also have access to a visiting mental health service and dental care. A number of full-time workers who staff the Queensland Health medical facility at the jail can can administer first aid, resolve general health complaints and manage chronic disease.
Source: The Cairns Post