New option to try to save their local hospital
By RACHEL SCOLLAY
A COMMUNITY takeover of Coraki's hospital is one idea bubbling away after an on-air discussion between Richmond Valley councillor Ray Jeffery and 88.9FM president Roger Wood.
"One guy rang up from Goonellabah before I even got off air," said Cr Jeffery.
"His life was saved at Coraki hospital and he pledged $100 straight up and $100 every year after that.
"We couldn't accept it, we haven't got it off the ground, but that's the sort of community support there is.
"I reckon we would raise $100,000 as quick as a wink."
Health Minister Morris Iemma, during his visit to Nimbin on Wednesday, left open all possibilities for the hospital.
He was even happy to talk about suggestions that it become a multi-purpose service.
However, the community takeover option hasn't been raised before.
Cr Jeffery said the community takeover idea sprang from the small rural town of Yeoval midway between Orange and Dubbo, where the public hospital was closed in 1988.
With a population of 450 residents in town and 1500 in the surrounding district, the community formed a co-operative that refurbished the old hospital and opened a new facility in 1989. It had seven beds, an accident assessment room, a nursing home, and a host of general health services.
Cr Jeffery said he still hadn't given up on retaining Coraki's hospital, but the Yeoval model could be a possible fall-back plan.
"They called a public meeting and got people to buy shares," he said.
"They are debt-free now."
Cr Jeffery said he did not support turning the town's hospital into a multi-purpose service with the council-controlled Mid Richmond Residents Village next door.
"You can't save the hospital and have the other thing," he said.
"They may retain four to six beds, but that's virtual closure anyway."
Cr Jeffery said he was doing more research and would put the idea forward at Monday night's meeting of The Save Campbell Hospital Coraki Committee.