BHAG Committee meets Andrew Stoner to discuss Maintenance matters at Bellingen Hospital

Members of the Bellinger Health Action Group Committee (BHAG) met with Andrew Stoner on site at Bellingen Hospital on Thursday 9th February to discuss with him during a walking tour, the on-going concerns the community has regarding timely & appropriate maintenance to the buildings & surrounds.

Barb Moore & Andrew Stoner discussing hospital maintenance issues

Barb Moore & Andrew Stoner discussing hospital maintenance issues

We discussed the re-location of the demountables to the schools for use as a music department and Andrew Stoner agreed to assist us.  Mr Stoner has now confirmed this in writing: I agreed to help the community with moving the demountables, subject to what was actually required. There was a suggestion that a local transport business may agree to provide a truck and that a crane business might help with the lifting of the demountables, hence any financial contribution required might be minimal. When those issues are resolved, and the type and quantum of assistance required has been clearly identified, I will do what I can through relevant government agencies to assist.

It will now be the responsibility of those organising the re-location of the demountables to determine what resources they require & contact Mr Stoner.

We then discussed the leaking roofs, viewed a number of other isolated maintenance matters & I spoke of the communities desire to install solar hot water.  Mr Stoner was impressed with the solar hot water initiative commenting that this would save the hospital money.  He has also confirmed in writing his verbal offer of assistance:  “I offered to explore ways of funding repair or replacement of the Hewitt block roofing and other maintenance items once a cost estimate was provided.”

The committee will again pursue a cost on these matters as a matter of urgency given Hewitt Block experienced at least 4 locations where water entered the hospital building during the last flood.

During our walking tour of the areas that the BHAG volunteer gardeners have restored he commended our work & the contribution we were making to the hospital including the positive benefits it was achieving including incidental maintenance of infrastructure.  Mr Stoner was shown the location of the expansion of the Emergency Department and at the conclusion of our tour he was shown where the new Sub-Acute ward would be built.  Due to its proximity to the adjacent Dr George Hewitt Arboretum I advised him that this unique heritage listed asset was in desperate need of restoration.  That an earlier grant application had been unsuccessful and I asked him if he could assist.  Mr Stoner has confirmed in writing: “I offered to explore avenues of assistance (eg heritage or environmental funding) for restoration of the arboretum. To do so, I will need a written proposal including a cost estimate and an indication of community contribution towards the work.”

Those persons involved in an earlier ‘working group’ to restore the Arboretum so that it can once again be open to the public and be used by the patients in the hospital will need to resurrect the earlier plans of two years ago and write a proposal to Mr Stoner.

We discussed in passing the state of the internal road and parking situation as another example of budget constraints.

We emphasised that the lack of maintenance was primarily due to insufficient funds in the maintenance budget for infrastructure & the lack of sufficient man hours on site to undertake the works.

As a result of this tour Mr Stoner has advised me of the following:  “I have spoken to Mr Dowrick regarding maintenance of the hospital facilities and he has undertaken to do what he can within his budget.”

Mr Stewart Dowrick (CEO of the Mid North Coast Local Health District) was in attendance during this visit by Mr Stoner, as was Ms Kathleen Boman (Executive Officer/Director of Nursing of Bellingen Hospital).

The BHAG committee is grateful for the time and consideration Mr Stoner has given to our hospital needs and it is now up to the community and the executive of the local health network to prepare the necessary documentation and forward it to Mr Stoner.

Barbara Moore (Vice Chair BHAG Inc.)