Teen mum victim of hospital bed shortage
By Alex Easton
IT WAS supposed to be a%happy time.
But only hours after her early introduction to motherhood last Friday, 16-year-old Tara Randall, of Casino, felt she was forced out of Lismore Base Hospital because there were not enough beds.
Ms Randall said she was told she would have to be 'transferred' to the Casino Memorial Hospital's maternity ward but she would have to arrange transport for her and her newborn son, Bailey.
Ms Randall said she had already been left sitting unwashed for two hours in the bed on which she had just given birth, under strict orders not to leave until she was seen by a nurse.
Ms Randall said the original plan was for her to have her baby at Lismore, where she would remain for at least a day before being driven back to Casino to spend a few days at the Memorial Hospital. She said her boyfriend had arranged to borrow a car and a baby capsule to drive her.
But there was nothing in place to get her back to her home town immediately after the birth.
"About five or 10 minutes after the birth they were asking if there was another doctor I could go to because of a bed shortage. When I said no, they said I would probably have to go home," she said.
Finally, about three-and-a-half hours later, Ms Randall managed to arrange for her sister's partner to drop off his own children and fetch her back to Casino.
In a statement from the North Coast Area Health Service, Lismore Base Hospital nursing director Liz Clarke said it was 'considered clinically safe for a healthy mother and baby to return home six hours after birthing'.
Ms Clarke said Ms Randall was not pressured to leave and could have stayed at the Base if she had chosen to.
Ms Randall agreed she was told she could stay if she had to, but it would have meant remaining in the birthing suite.
Dr Chris Ingall, of the Lismore Base Hospital Medical Staff Council, said the Base Hospital was running 'to capacity and beyond'.
The maternity section, in particular, was taking a heavy load, with 25 new mums filling its beds on Saturday.
"The Medical Staff Council executive wouldn't be surprised that staff are being stretched this way, and that patients are asked to do these things as a result of there being too few beds," he said.
Dr Ingall said the hospital was so full some patients who should have been in wards were instead taking up beds in the emergency department, forcing ambulances filled with sick patients to queue outside the hospital.
Ms Clarke said she was trying to contact Ms Randall to explain there had been no pressure to leave the Base and to apologise if she felt she was.