Coraki hospital may shut under cost-cutting plans
By ALEX EASTON,
CORAKI'S century-old Campbell Hospital will close under a plan to redirect $2.3 million in health funding across the region.
North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford yesterday announced a plan to take away the hospital's 14 acute care beds and staff, turning it into a GP-run health clinic and a community health centre.
The clinic would include daytime emergency services, seven days per week, and the community health centre would provide outpatient services. A new Aboriginal health post would be set up at Box Ridge.
The plan would provide more acute bed funding for Casino Hospital, more staff for Lismore Base Hospital's emergency department, improved cardiac services, and more surgical funding.
Mr Crawford said the changes would depend on the outcome of the 12-week community consultation process, which Richmond Valley councillor and hospital auxiliary secretary Norma Wise said the community would use to fight the plan.
Cr Wise said elderly residents in the town relied on the care offered by the hospital to remain independent in their own homes ? something that saved money by reducing demand on nursing homes.
That concern was echoed by union officials among the hospital's six full-time and 10 full-time-equivalent staff, who said they often cared for elderly patients with respiratory and simple cardiac problems.
NSW Nurses' Association delegates and Campbell Hospital nurses Sandy Weeks and Keith Dorrell said the hospital also provided back-up bed space for Lismore, Casino and Ballina hospitals and gave primary care to seriously injured people.
Mr Crawford acknowledged the role of the hospital, but said existing bed patients would be better cared for as outpatients; something that would improve health funding across the Northern Rivers.
Cr Wise said the town would fight for the hospital because of its importance in the hearts of its residents.
The hospital was built in 1904 after farmer John Campbell bequeathed funds for it in his will. At its height, the hospital was equipped with surgical units, a maternity ward and a children's ward.
"This is a big part of the town," Cr Wise said. "Over the years, anyone who's been here for any length of time has been employed at the hos- pital."
The North Coast Area Health Service briefing paper on the hospital can be viewed at http://www.ncahs.nsw.gov.au
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