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Supporting the community in Lismore floods

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27th September, 2022

In February 2022, Lismore and the Northern Rivers region was hit by torrential rain that saw the Wilson River rise two metres above its previous record height.. NSW Health Pathology’s Lismore team worked tirelessly to ensure uninterrupted service for the community despite their own personal challenges.

Flood waters lapped at the front step of our Lis­more lab­o­ra­to­ry in Feb­ru­ary 2022 as lev­ee banks broke and large areas of the town went under water.

Staff sand­bagged the door­way and moved equip­ment to high­er ground so test­ing could con­tin­ue if the lab flooded.

Hous­es and busi­ness­es were destroyed leav­ing many peo­ple home­less, includ­ing some of our NSW Health Pathol­o­gy col­leagues who lost their homes and pos­ses­sions. Roads were cut leav­ing oth­er col­leagues strand­ed for extend­ed peri­ods. Near­by towns were iso­lat­ed pre­vent­ing spec­i­mens reach­ing our lab.

The town had­n’t even begun to recov­er when in March, the riv­er broke its banks again, inun­dat­ing the town and hin­der­ing the clean-up and any progress that had been achieved.

Heart­break­ing as it was, our Lis­more team was undaunt­ed because they knew peo­ple were depend­ing on them to con­tin­ue to pro­vide vital pub­lic pathol­o­gy services.

Gal­vanised by dis­as­ter and ener­gised by the cama­raderie of their close team and gen­er­ous sup­port from the teams at our Tweed, Grafton and Coffs Har­bour labs, they kept going.

Staff who were able to get to work cov­ered for col­leagues who were iso­lat­ed, work­ing their shifts to main­tain ser­vices. They part­nered with emer­gency ser­vices to retrieve spec­i­mens from iso­lat­ed com­mu­ni­ties, and with Lifeblood to restock blood supplies.

Despite the chaos, iso­la­tion and dis­rup­tion to their per­son­al lives, the team worked tire­less­ly to ensure undis­rupt­ed diag­nos­tic ser­vice for our North­ern Rivers patients and clinicians.


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