The crowd at the community information session over Maclean Hospital
The crowd at the community information session over Maclean Hospital

CLARENCE CHATTERBOX: No thought in Maclean Hospital changes

TIME for me to jump on my soapbox again this week and address a topic that could have serious ramifications for our community.

The Northern NSW Local Health District's proposed changes to Maclean Hospital in my opinion have not been thought through.

According to the patient information guide available for download on the Maclean District Hospital website, 43 beds are available, including 10 beds specifically for rehab patients.

This means we currently have 33 beds to be used for a combination of palliative care and acute and sub-acute cases.

Does this mean that under the new reconfiguration the hospital will operate from day to day with 33 beds including 10 beds specifically for rehab patients?

Leaving only 23 beds to be divided between palliative care, acute and sub-acute patients?

I realise Level 2 will still be available for use in "surge" periods.

What constitutes a "surge" period? Who will staff this level if this is needed?

What if a patient needs to be isolated if considered infectious? There are so many questions to be answered.

Any "ward reconfiguration" that results in fewer medical treatment options for the members of the public in this area is, in my opinion, disastrous. Here's why…

We live in an area which is popular.

Easier access to the area when the new highway opens in the very near future will bring more people to the region. .

And as a result, we are seeing great demand for real estate in the area. Dunes Estate in Yamba, 15 blocks sold in one week, Stage 1 of Yamba Quays Estate 42 blocks (two more stages to come), Carrs Drive Estate, Columbus Estate in Townsend, Birrigan Iluka Beach, a proposed 32-lot subdivision at Jubilee St, Townsend, and the proposed 255 manufactured home lots at Gulmarrad.

How does the Health District propose we are going to accommodate services for all these people?

Sure, we can transfer patients to other hospitals in Grafton or Lismore, but are Grafton and Lismore equipped to take on more patients from our area?

Do we have enough ambulances to ferry patients to these outlying areas while still servicing the community for emergencies?

Nursing a palliative care patient, will the patient and their family have any privacy to grieve?

Will there be access to single occupancy rooms?

Sitting proudly up on the hill overlooking Maclean, the hospital is a shining light of the community, as can be seen through the work of the hospital auxiliary and donations from the community.

I can't help but think that the Northern NSW Local Health District is trying to snuff that light out.



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