Coffs Coast Advocate, Ute Schulenberg – 14th June 2011
You don’t need to tell patient Paul Jones how badly Bellingen Hospital needs an upgrade – rainwater fell in his ward while he was recuperating at the weekend. The heavy rain bucketing the Coffs Coast further highlighted the state of disrepair at this much-loved community hospital.
“The floor was covered in water and I nearly lost my balance,” said Mr Jones.“Staff had to mop it all up and put towels down to soak up the excess. Myself and my roommate were then moved into the room next door because staff were concerned we might injure ourselves.” Mr Jones said from the discolouration and the peeling paint it appeared the leak was an old one. And that’s not all – the drips are in the television lounge, too.
“There’s a bucket on one of the chairs, which has been there for the past three days,” he said. “When you watch TV, you listen to the water dripping into the bucket.”
Bellingen Health Action Group chairman Pia Dollmann said the state of the hospital’s infrastructure had been an issue since the group began in 2009.
“We have raised this repeatedly with the health department bureaucrats,” Ms Dollmann said. “Apparently some patchwork repairs were done a year ago but that clearly has not fixed the problem. “I have also been told there is water coming in around some power points, which is potentially an even bigger problem – imagine if someone plugged in an appliance at the wrong moment. “We got a quote for a new roof and it was about $90,000 – that’s not that outrageous.” She said she was impatient and annoyed at the inaction which included plans to improve facilities for nursing staff and long-term patients using funds from the Mary Faichney Bequest.
“The plans are there but nothing is being implemented, apparently because there are other plans in the pipeline but no-one has said what is actually happening,” Ms Dollmann said.
Yesterday, a spokeswoman for the Mid North Coast Local Health Network said it was aware of the situation and Bellingen Hospital staff was dealing with it as the problems arose.