The flying physiotherapist, Meredith Schwilk and Woofy (the dog with wings) intend to be regular visitors to Cobar over the next six months.
The pair, who are based in Orange, started working at the Cobar Primary Health Care Centre (CPHCC) last Thursday and plan to make weekly visits to see patients in Cobar.
A manipulative physiotherapist, Ms Schwilk has owned her own practice in Orange since 1991 and has been flying for 10 years.
She said she was first offered the opportunity to practice in Cobar about four years ago and after gaining her full pilot’s licence earlier this year, she decided to accept the “challenge” to work in Cobar.
“Part of the dream of learning to fly was to do some outback physio work,” Ms Schwilk told The Cobar Weekly in an interview last week.
Ms Schwilk currently employs three other physiotherapists in her practice who will help with her Orange case load and now with her full pilot’s licence, Ms Schwilk said she is able to commit to regular visits to Cobar.
While in Cobar she will be working with people of all ages from school age children to the elderly helping with a range of injuries including back and neck, sporting injuries and post operative rehabilitation.
“I can give seniors home programs, work in with the integrated care programs, maybe organise some exercise classes and I’m also keen to introduce Bounce Back therapy,” she said.
Ms Schwilk said patients can be referred to her by their doctor or by word of mouth and appointments can be made at the CPHCC.
Her dog Woofy, an adopted Border Collie/Cocker Spaniel cross, regularly flies with Ms Schwilk, and has recently just passed his ‘Pets as Therapy’ temperament test.
Mrs Schwilk has had him for about 18 months and she said Woofy has just started doing some work with her at an aged care facility in Orange.
“Basically he’s the boss’s dog, but with his really nice nature, he’s ideal to be a ‘Pets as Therapy’ dog,” Ms Schwilk said.
She said Woofy has a great ability to be able to instantly relax her patients.
“Then it becomes not so much a formal interview, but more of a chat,” Ms Schwilk said.
However she said she understands that if people don’t like or are afraid of dogs, then Woofy won’t sit in on those sessions.
The flight from Orange to Cobar takes Ms Schwilk and Woofy about 2-3 hours depending upon wind direction.
They plan to travel up on Thursday mornings, stay overnight and see patients on both days.
“I’ll be doing that in blocks of four weeks with a week in between, up until Christmas.
“So far I have been made very welcome.
“The staff at the medical centre are just wonderful.
“They want to make it work and I want to make it work,” Ms Schwilk said.
“For me, coming out here is like a breath of fresh air; country towns are so friendly.”
Ms Schwilk said with the high costs involved in hiring a plane to fly up each week she hopes she can make the service viable.
“That’s why I’ve only guaranteed it up to six months.
“I think ultimately we’ll find a way to do it because we want to,” Ms Schwilk said.