More than 230 residents of Coraki and the lower Richmond crowded into the beer garden of the Coraki Hotel last Thursday with one aim in mind: to save Campbell Hospital.
Page MP Janelle Saffin addressed the meeting via her mobile, with her representative Lee Duncan passing around copies of a petition.
New Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis was quick to point the finger at the Northern NSW Local Health District Board, pointing out that the board had the power to decide whether to keep the hospital open or close it.
The hospital was closed after storm damage in September and October last year.
Recently staff were told the hospital would be closed until further notice while a review of infrastructure was carried out.
However, members of the community expressed concern that the findings of the review were a foregone conclusion and that it was a way of closing the hospital by stealth.
Many community members told tales of medical emergencies where heart-attack sufferers or other acute illnesses had been treated successfully at the hospital, and expressed fear that the extra time taken for an ambulance to come from Lismore and drive back again could mean the difference between life and death.
The meeting called on the NSW Government and the Northern NSW Local Health District Board to:
1. Make a public commitment to the long-term continuation of the services and beds that were operational prior to the closure of the hospital;
2. Ensure the closure of the hospital is limited to the shortest time possible;
3. Agree to the public release of the infrastructure report when it is finalised and ensure that this report is completed no later than the end of March; and
4. Provide adequate security for the hospital and grounds during the temporary closure.
Local Health District CEO Chris Crawford released a statement to The Echo saying the role of security consultants SNP had been expanded and that until the board had considered the structural engineers report, he was not in a position to make further comment.
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