Shout out to Queensland Health | A weekend in Brisbane

This last weekend I spent in sunny warm and slightly humid Brisbane. My home town. I was visiting my daughters.

On arriving on Friday evening at my parents’ place I was greeted by Miss16 who entered on a pair of crutches and her right ankle heavily strapped. She’d rolled it towards the end of training that night while attempting a new routine. Injury is not unknown to Miss16. She’s suffered her share and in some ways more than her share. I’ve never seen a kid with such a high tolerance for pain. She regularly competes with niggling injuries and pain. One of the amazing qualities Miss16 possesses is an extraordinary mental toughness. Her coach suggested we see a doctor to arrange a referral to a radiologist just in case there was a fracture. She couldn’t bear her own weight to walk so we decided to continue with the ice and elevation overnight. My hope was we could get in to see a GP early Saturday morning and then get her ankle exposed to X rays as soon as possible. My memories of working in emergency departments on Saturday mornings were filled with long waiting times, screaming patients and a line of hung over medical specialty trainees from a big night out. I wanted to avoid the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Emergency Department if I could.

After a good night’s sleep Miss16 reported increased pain and swelling. We would definitely need to see a medical practitioner. There is a local medical centre close to where my parents live. Miss16 and I got there at 8.30 am as they opened and were told the radiology practice they refer patients to doesn’t open on weekends and we’d be better off presenting to the hospital emergency department. I looked at Miss16 and said we needed to be prepared for a long wait and that Miss12 may miss training.

Once in the rental car (that’s another story for this blog) we crawled through the Saturday morning traffic. As we got close to the RBWH I started feeling a little anxious. Parking around here had never been good and I’d have to drop Miss16 off at the entrance given she was on crutches. As I turned into Butterfield Street I noticed everything looked different compared to my old memories of working here. There was a parking station. The ED didn’t look decrepit. Things were looking up.

After finding a park (which was easy but expensive) we got to the triage desk which was vacant. Within a few minutes an RN appeared and he asked us to sit down and took Miss16’s history. There was an old fellow in a cubicle shouting out delirious and drunk, abusing staff and using foul language. Memories came rushing back. This was one of many reasons to specialise in pathology. I recall as a junior house officer having to do twelve months of emergency medicine before I could start the terms I wanted to prepare for pathology training. The triage RN gently examined Miss16’s ankled and concluded a doctor would need to see her. Within five minutes an ED registrar was taking a history and examining MIss16’s ankle. Within ten minutes a radiology referral was written and Miss16 was having her ankle exposed to X rays. Within 30 minutes of our presentation we spoke with the ED registrar. I got to see the X ray. There was no obvious fracture but the medial aspect of the distal end of Miss16’s right fibula looked a little dark. Probably the result of many older injuries but possibly a fracture in evolution. We were given a choice, cast and review in fracture clinic or conservative management with GP review in a week and another exposure to X rays. Miss16 made it clear she didn’t want a cast. We agreed on conservative management.

In the end we were in and out in under an hour. That still cost us $10 for parking but a small price given the excellent service we experienced. If we’d been to see a GP and private radiologist the out of pocket (gap) expenses would be significant under our universal public health insurance, i.e., Medicare despite our additional private health insurance. Queensland for as long as I can remember has had a free public hospital system, well before the other states went to a free system. This is not something most people younger than me know, but for older Australians, they’ll remember Queensland lead the way. This along with the abolition of death taxes was a reason why so many Victorians in their senior years would come to Queensland to retire. There has been a lot of criticism of Queensland Health but it looks like the Queensland Government is doing a great job with the RBWH and its ED. Thumbs up. I’d happily recommend the RBWH ED to anyone.


Ankle wrapped with ice

Ankle displaying a little swelling

Disclosure. I worked in Queensland Health including the then RBH from 1990 to 1995. I’m currently working for the Australian Government Department of Health and for the ACT Government Health Department. I make the above comments not as a public servant working in health bureaucracy and in a hospital, but as a father with a daughter in need of medical care.

Getting back to the beginning. Friday afternoon. I had a good day in ACT Pathology and managed to get away on time to make my flight to Brisbane.

In the lounge I had a little cheese and then someone came around with a spinach and mushroom pie. I wasn’t about to say no.

Blue cheese, quince paste and lavosh bread

A little spinach and mushroom pie

On board QF960 I arranged an upgrade so I could have a better dinner. The fish pie was okay and made better with the mushy peas.

Fish pie with mushy peas

When I arrived in Brisbane I walked to the Hertz counter to pick up the rental car. I normally rent a compact with manual transmission. Usually a Toyota Yaris. The cheapest I can possibly get. When I got to the counter I was asked if I would mind accepting a complimentary upgrade to a Nissan Tiida. I’ve never been a fan of Nissan vehicles but had never driven a Tiida. So I said yes hoping for a good experience. When I got into the car I tried setting up my iPhone to discover that the bluetooth set up was for the telephone only and wouldn’t allow me to play my tunes or podcasts through the sound system. It’s a good thing I brought my auxillary patch cord. The car drove well enough but it was full of rattles and noises. It had done about 40,000 km and didn’t look dinged up. It was also thirsty on petrol. If asked again, I’ll say no and stick with the Toyota Yaris. The sound system is better and will connect wirelessly to my iPhone so I can listen to my tunes and podcasts. After all I have all these Star Trek podcasts to listen to.

Look at the podcasts I like to listen too


The Nissan Tiida I rented

For breakfast we all had a slice of toast with Mum’s lemon butter.


Lemon butter on toast

After getting Miss16 seen and Miss12 to gymnastics training I took Miss18 and Miss16 to lunch at the local Westfield and we enjoyed some noodles and other food at FantAsia.

Hong Kong Dumplings with BBQ Pork

Tokyo Beef with low GI rice

Dim sims

After lunch we walked around Westfield and the girls introduced me to Daiso Japan. This is a new place to Westfield Chermside. The basic rule is everything costs $2.80 which equates to about ¥100. It’s like a one dollar shop only better and fancier. We saw some strange things there like horse fat hand cream.

Horse fat hand cream

Everything is $2.80

One thing I really like about Spring in Brisbane is the Jacaranda trees. I’ve been told they were originally from Southern Africa. Mum told me as a girl growing up in Brisbane she didn’t like them because when they bloomed it meant examinations were coming close. Fortunately when I was at high school the Radfield system was in place with continuous assessment throughout the year. A demonstration of how far ahead Queensland was in secondary education. This meant a student could afford to have an off day and all his or her eggs weren’t in an end of year basket.

Jacaranda tree in Clayfield near Delta Gymnastics

Afternoon tea with doughnuts

Miss18 had to work Saturday evening. She has a job at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. I took my parents, Miss16 and Miss12 to the Kedron-Wavel RSL for dinner. It was a good evening although my parents’ weren’t that keen on their Wagyu beef and bacon pies. The pies were overcooked a little dry inside. On the other hand Miss12 loved her chicken nuggets and Miss16 raved about her combination laksa. I had nachos.

Miss16’s lime milkshake

My caramel milkshake

Mum and Dad had a Wagyu beef and bacon pie each

Miss16 had a combination laksa

I had nachos

After dinner we had a good evening watching TV and chatting about stuff.

I went to pick up Miss18 at around midnight and then managed a decent sleep.

For breakfast we enjoyed bacon, sausage and egg.

Bacon, sausage and egg with a strawberry 🙂

It was a pretty good weekend. The weather in Brisbane was glorious.

I hope you had a good weekend. Eat yummy and enjoy life.

Saying good bye with Canberra Airport public art


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4 thoughts on “Shout out to Queensland Health | A weekend in Brisbane

  1. Great to hear about your weekend! Whenever anyone mentions Butterfield St & October I automatically think if how it used to be with the gorgeous jacaranda trees bordering the edges of the street! I would drive there each year just to bask in their purple beauty!

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