Adventure-loving doctor joins coronavirus fight
KAROLINA Kerkemeyer had planned to spend her 30th birthday on top of a mountain in Tanzania.
Instead, the Vanguard Health doctor has traded her hiking boots for a swab kit as she helps fight against any coronavirus outbreak in Moranbah.
For six weeks, Dr Kerkemeyer has worked at a free COVID-19 clinic, providing mobile testing to residents.
"I swapped the mountains of Tanzania for Moranbah for my birthday," she joked.
But for a doctor who has spent 14 days trekking through Nepal and has climbed to a Mt Everest base camp, living and working in Queensland's mining heart was just the next big adventure.
"It's completely different. It is its own adventure," she said.
Dr Kerkemeyer said the Isaac region was a big jump from her childhood in Adelaide and her studies in Sydney and Melbourne.
"There's a big difference in what (medical services) can be provided compared to metro areas."
While coronavirus has not had a major outbreak in the region, Dr Kerkemeyer said the mix of older residents and a large fly-in-fly-out workforce could be a deadly cocktail.
But the community has remained calm and vigilant during the crisis, she said.
"Everyone is getting on board on how serious it is," Dr Kerkemeyer said.
"Everyone is quite adaptable. They're taking it in their stride."
And soon more patients will be able to access the mobile clinic, as Dr Kerkemeyer starts her rotation in Clermont, Dysart and Middlemount this week.
"With mining towns it's difficult to travel for one to one-and-a-half hours to Moranbah".
The Vanguard Health clinic will continue for another six months, with an extension likely as the pandemic threat continues, Dr Kerkemeyer said.
A second Bowen-based clinic is led by Dr Gillian Baird, she said.