Hospital revamp causes problems for patients
By JANE GARDNER and ALEX EASTON
THERE is no easy way to go to the toilet when you are on kidney dialysis. But Bill Sayers says it's become a real mission since Lismore Base Hospital removed them from the dialysis unit.
Mr Sayers would know the Base better than some of the staff. He has been a renal (kidney) patient at the hospital for close to 20 years and also has diabetes and a heart condition that keep him in close touch with the place.
He said that in the squeeze to fit 12 rehabilitation beds on level C6 after North Coast Area Health Service's decision to pull the beds from St Vincent's Hospital, the hospital had converted the toilets into storage rooms, forcing the renal dialysis patients to go to the rehab ward to get to the toilet.
"They have shifted everything into the renal unit and left us with no toilet," Mr Sayers said. "It's getting worse and worse. If we want to go to the toilet, we have to go all the way down to C6, and if they're busy we have to go out to the public one out the front.
"When you're on dialysis, you tend to throw up and get diarrhoea. Can you imagine not being close to a toilet?" Mr Sayers said the addition of the rehab beds had created overcrowding in the ward and had left the staff overworked.
"It's just shocking; it happened about three or four months ago," he said.
"The ward is always full, there's absolutely no room to move. There are four rubbish bins right next to a chair where we are getting our treatment.
"The nurses are so busy; they're actually running from one patient to another. They don't even have time for a cup of coffee.
A spokeswoman for the area health service confirmed the toilets were lost in renovations, resulting 'in a small increase in the distance visitors of the renal unit need to make to access toilet facilities'.
However, the hospital was building a new toilet for the renal patients and it was almost complete, she said.
The spokeswoman said bins were placed close to the renal dialysis chairs because staff had to frequently and quickly dispose of used equipment.