Privilege and honour
I write as the exiting general manager of the Bega Valley Private Hospital. It has been my privilege and honour to have worked at the hospital for the last 25 years. As the hospital has closed, and I prepare to enter the unknown world of the grey nomad, I reflect on the achievements of the past quarter of a century.
To the patients I say thank you for your custom and I wish you well in finding suitable services to meet your future healthcare needs. To the staff and doctors, thank you all for your hard work and dedication. You are some of the most skilled and professional people on the planet and it has been a joy to know and work with you.
To Andrew Newton, the CEO of the LHD, thank you for reaching out as you did to assist staff to find work within the LHD, your efforts are most appreciated.
To all the numerous businesses and service providers with whom we have worked I thank you and wish you well. We should all hold our heads high and recognise the massive achievement 25 years of service represents.
Rhonda Wearn, Bega
A way forward
As the dust settles on the rather sudden closure of the Bega Valley day surgery centre, I hope we don't forget two groups of people.
First and foremost are the patients who need the small day surgery procedures – colonoscopies, gastroscopies, arthroscopies and carpal tunnel surgeries, to name a few. It used to be simple. Book into the day surgery, get dropped off, have the procedure and get picked up by family members, friends, colleagues without inconveniencing them too much.
Now, even for these small procedures they are having to travel to the nearest private facility at Mogo or to Canberra. Suddenly the simple thing turns into a big inconvenient issue. Driving 2-3 hours each way for a 10 minute procedure or taking days off to drive to and from Canberra instead of being able to pick them up during a short lunch break must be inconveniencing a lot of people. The upshot is that more and more patients are choosing not to go private because of this inconvenience and getting placed on to the public hospital waiting list which is already bulging at the seams.
The second group is the dedicated and experienced nursing and ancillary staff who drew the proverbial short straw with very short notice of the closure, leaving them with no option but to scramble around looking for jobs. It is good that the SERH admin have taken the right step and are in the process of trying to absorb and retain this pool of experienced nurses at a time when we are not able to attract more people to the country. However, a place in the casual pool is not really what many of them are looking at and I am afraid we will start losing experienced people as they begin to move away to get a regular job.
I am not forgetting the surgeons who are trying to sort out places for private patients already on their lists. This is obviously not easy as hospitals in Canberra and elsewhere already cater to fixed sessions and additional work may not fit the surgeon's roster and schedules.
If not approached properly, this is going to have long term ramifications for health care in the region. I suspect one of the options would be to get some private concern to reopen the day surgery facility or failing that, get them to take up the fourth theatre in SERH. They can then employ the nurses on a full time basis, use the sterilising facilities and ward space.
The public hospital will gain by getting paid by the private consortium for the use of their facilities and it should end up a win-win situation for everyone concerned, most of all for the patients and the staff. Hopefully someone will take notice and do what’s needed. It is not a simple solution but unless we take that first step, this is going to affect a lot of local people.