12-month plan rolled into 26 years ser­vice

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - News - An­drea Davy an­drea.davy@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

THERE is never a dull day as a bush nurse.

That’s the opin­ion of Les­ley De­landelles, a woman who has ded­i­cated 26 years of ser­vice to the Jeri­cho Health Clinic, si­t­u­ated about 50km west of Alpha in western Queens­land.

Dur­ing her time at Jeri­cho she has helped count­less pa­tients within the cen­tre’s large catch­ment area, mended a camel’s bro­ken leg and re­moved a cac­tus thorn from a cat’s eye.

How­ever, as for the all-time high­light in her long-stand­ing ca­reer, Les­ley gave a sim­ple, non-dra­matic yet heart­warm­ing an­swer: “Ev­ery day, at the end of the day, I can say I feel like I have made a dif­fer­ence”.

Les­lie’s ded­i­ca­tion to the Jeri­cho com­mu­nity hasn’t gone un­no­ticed, with the ru­ral nurse pick­ing up a Royal Fly­ing Doc­tors Ser­vice Lo­cal Hero award.

While hum­ble Les­ley might not feel like a “hero”, she said she felt hon­oured to re­ceive the tro­phy.

Catch­ing up with the Ru­ral Weekly from the Jeri­cho clinic, Les­ley re­flected on her time as a nurse in cen­tral-west Queens­land.

Les­ley has strong fam­ily con­nec­tions to peo­ple work­ing on the land – her par­ents were from a cat­tle prop­erty.

How­ever, the coun­try girl had moved away and made her own life for her­self, work­ing in the Bund­aberg re­gion, when she ac­cepted a po­si­tion at the Jeri­cho Bush Nurs­ing Cen­tre, as it was known then. She agreed to the job un­der the pro­viso she would only stay for 12 months.

“The bush nurs­ing clinic here was hav­ing trou­ble re­cruit­ing a nurse, they had been for some time,” she said.

“So a lot of my fam­ily mem­bers asked me if I would come out for a while un­til they found a nurse.

“So I took 12 months leave... and I have been here ever since.”

A few things hap­pened that made Les­ley de­cide to stay.

The day af­ter she moved to town she met her hus­band Syd­ney, who was work­ing build­ing cat­tle yards at the time, and she quickly fell in love with her work and the com­mu­nity.

“Jeri­cho is just one of those places. It re­ally grows on you, it just does,” she said.

“It’s the peo­ple out here. It’s one of those places, a lot of peo­ple say they are mov­ing out here for six months and they end up stay­ing for a life­time.”

Les­ley was in her mid-30s when she moved out, and said at first it was chal­leng­ing work­ing in a close-knit and some­what iso­lated com­mu­nity.

How­ever, over the years, with im­prove­ments in the health sec­tor, Les­ley now has a huge sup­port net­work she can rely on.

“I am not work­ing by my­self, I am part of a large team,” she said.

“I have a good sup­port net­work within Queens­land Health. We have a lot of com­mu­ni­ca­tions re­sources, doc­tors who are on call that we can con­tact for advice.”

At the clinic there is a cler­i­cal as­sis­tant (some­one Les­ley de­scribes as “ter­rific”), and a doc­tor on board ev­ery Fri­day.

The Royal Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice is the es­sen­tial re­source that helps fill in the gaps.

“RFDS is in­cred­i­bly vi­tal; they are vi­tal for peo­ple to be able to live out here in these western dis­tricts,” she said.

“It helps me, just know­ing RFDS will take pa­tients to ter­tiary level care on the coast in the big hos­pi­tals for emer­gen­cies,” she said.

Les­ley de­scribed her job as “chal­leng­ing” and “never bor­ing”.

The hours of the day seem to fly by, she said.

Bush nurses are known for be­ing multi-skilled and quickly adapt­able, and it’s this va­ri­ety Les­ley loves most.

“Be­ing here is like be­ing part of a big fam­ily,” she said.

“You look af­ter the whole cir­cle of life, from the un­born child and their mum, then right up to the wise old el­derly – then there is ev­ery­thing in be­tween.”

No mat­ter what the sit­u­a­tion is, if some­one asks for help, Les­ley will en­deav­our to lend a hand, and on oc­ca­sion this has in­cluded treat­ment for pets and live­stock.

“We have had some funny sit­u­a­tions,” she said.

“There aren’t too many vets in this re­gion, but there are a lot of peo­ple out here who are in­volved in eques­trian, cam­p­draft­ing, bar­rel rac­ing... all that type of thing.

“Oc­ca­sion­ally their horse will be ill or in­jured and re­quire an in­tra­venous in­jec­tion. So we have had, on a few oc­ca­sions, horses brought in on a float or a truck be­cause the owner is hav­ing trou­ble ac­cess­ing the vein.”

Al­ways the pro­fes­sional, Les­ley now has vets she can call for as­sis­tance who will of­fer advice and talk through their rec­om­men­da­tions if needed – this was the case with the cat.

“The cat had a cac­tus thorn, from one of those hor­ri­ble cac­tus we get our here that punc­ture tyre tubes, right through his eye­ball.

“So I rang the vet, and they said for me to take the thorn out and cover the eye. So I did that, then the fam­ily took the cat to the vet in Emer­ald. He has now had his eye re­moved sur­gi­cally and he is do­ing well.”

An­other happy high­light was mend­ing a cow camel frac­ture.

“One of the fun­ni­est things we had here was a young fe­male camel with a bro­ken leg,” she said.

“It was a sit­u­a­tion where they would ei­ther have to put the camel down, or we could just try and do some­thing to help.

“So we put a back slab on her, we had to re­place it a few times over a cou­ple of months… and I heard the other day that she now has a young one, so she is fine.

“These are the types of things you might see, and I mean there is nowhere else for peo­ple to go. So if I can help I will, but I al­ways try to find some­one if it’s out of my league.”

❝ You look af­ter the whole cir­cle of life... — Les­lie DeLan­dell


HELP­ING HAND: Jeri­cho Health Clinic nurse Les­lie Delan­dell has been awarded an RFDS Lo­cal Hero award for her long-stand­ing ef­forts within the Jeri­cho com­mu­nity.

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