How The Daily Examiner reported the opening of the gallery.
How The Daily Examiner reported the opening of the gallery.

Disgust over hospital photo theft

GRAFTON Base Hospital (GBH) should have released information about last month’s theft of up to eight historical photographs from its walls, a disappointed former senior staff member said.

Former GBH director of nursing Kay Paine, who was instrumental in collecting and mounting a gallery of photos on corridor walls in the hospital just before her retirement in 2002, was devastated at the theft of the photographs and angry that the hospital had not reported their loss.

“A senior member of staff contacted me about the thefts and I waited to see if more information came out in the paper,” Ms Paine said.

“When nothing appeared, I was very disappointed.”

Ms Paine said the failure of the hospital management to release details of the theft was a further indication that some of the executive lacked sympathy and loyalty for the hospital.

“A lot of the new executives up there now don’t have a history with the hospital and haven’t developed a loyalty to the hospital,” she said.

“There are a lot of staff at the hospital who have trained there over many years, and they were devastated at the theft of these photos.”

Ms Paine was at a loss to discover a motive behind the theft that occurred between 6.50pm and 7.10pm on Saturday, April 17, near the main entrance to the hospital.

“There are about eight photos that have been stolen, including one of nursing staff from about 1918, and photos of Pixi O’Harris murals in the children’s ward,” Ms Paine said.

“Possibly the motive of the theft was to get the frames. The frame on the nurses’ photograph was a carved wooden frame that was very expensive.”

Ms Paine said she had smaller, lower-quality images that would be used to replace the missing ones.

She said police had fingerprinted the area and believed they had some good prints from a photograph the thieves were unable to prise from its mounting on the wall.

The North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) said police were notified of the theft straight away and an investigation has been launched.

“Staff were understandably disappointed and shocked that someone could steal these items from a hospital,” a NCAHS spokesperson said.

“The pictures were of sentimental and historic interest; they would not have much monetary value.”

The health service believes it has adequate security in place at the hospital.

“The Grafton Base Hospital takes the safety of patients and staff seriously and has a range of security measures in place. These include: closed circuit television cameras, computerised swipe cards on certain access doors, security guards patrolling at different times, emergency duress buttons and personal duress pendants for staff, a duress response team for aggressive incidents,” the spokesperson said.

Police said the results from the finger-printing of the area would not be known for at least another three weeks.

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