Fears held for Coraki hospital

About 50 people attended an impromptu meeting at the Coraki Bowling Club on Tuesday night to air their concerns about the way Campbell Hospital is being run.

On Monday, March 1, after heavy rain, the roof at the hospital began leaking. On March 2, patients were transferred to Casino and staff told that the hospital would remain closed until the fire alarms had been fixed.

North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford said on Tuesday that an engineer was looking at the hospital.

“We’re getting a maintenance report finalised on what it will cost to do the maintanence on the roof, but we are taking the opportunity while the patients are out of the hospital to do a wider review looking at some more structural things,” Mr Crawford said. “It’s been suggested we should replace the whole roof rather than patch up leaks, so that’s one thing to consider.”

Mr Crawford said they hoped to have the engineers report to make a decision sometime next week.

“I want to stress we are not closing it,” he said.

NCAHS attempted to close Campbell Hospital in 2005 but a massive public outcry saved the facility.

However Save the Coraki Hospital Committee member Narelle Jarvis, who was at Tuesday’s meeting, said the community was concerned.

“Is North Coast Area Health once again reducing vital services in the Mid-Richmond in its attempt to close Campbell Hospital once and for all, even though Chris Crawford denies that this is his intention?” Ms Jarvis asked. “It would appear that it is someone’s intention. And why is it that two hospitals, Casino Hospital and Campbell Hospital Coraki, under the management of Peter Jeffery, are in dire straits?

“All this while Premier Kenneally is telling us that she doesn’t want to close rural hospitals.

“Those at the meeting are very concerned for the future of Campbell Hospital. Our community is not complacent.”

Gerard Criss, practice manager of the Coraki Medical Centre, who addressed Tuesday night’s meeting, said it was ridiculous that administrative staff had been allowed to return to work at the hospital while clinical staff had not.

Dr Rosie Craig, who is the GP at the Coraki Medical Centre and also the Visiting Medical Officer at Campbell Hospital, had been told on Tuesday that she was not allowed to conduct her regular Wednesday day surgery at Campbell Hospital.

However on Wednesday morning Mr Criss was told Dr Craig could operate, as it had been revealed that other clinics had been using the hospital.

“Every Wednesday Dr Rosie does minor procedures like removing skin cancers, and cysts, things that may be cancerous and done under local anaesthetic with a scapel,” Mr Criss said. “They expected Rosie to do the procedure at Casino, but as she pointed out, it was on a patient’s leg and you shouldn’t be driving long distances if you’ve had a local anaesthetic in your leg.

“We’re in Coraki and not in Casino, it’s an hour round trip just driving time, and the reason we set up here was to serve the community here, not in Casino.”

Mr Criss said he thought that, with both sides of politics looking at returning to boards of directors for hospitals, Campbell Hospital ought to be run seperately from the Casino Hospital because a lack of resources could mean that the smaller hospital in Coraki missed out.

“This hospital was run by a community-based board for 89 years from 1904-1993,” Mr Criss said. “At one stage it had a rehabilitation unit, 30 beds and a mental health service that was recognised around the world for the work it did.

“Seventeen short years later and it’s been stripped back to 14 beds.

“Clinical staff came to the hospital auxillary and asked for a blood analysis machine. The community raised funds – $15,000 – to purchase it and were told by Area Health that we weren’t allowed to purchase it, even though it would save lives and wouldn’t have cost them a cent.”

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