Lacson of Clunes, with her daughter Coco, 2, was helped by the Bangalow Community Health Centre after the birth.
Lacson of Clunes, with her daughter Coco, 2, was helped by the Bangalow Community Health Centre after the birth.

Centre nurse a lifeline for Clunes mum

WHEN Janey Lacson was at home on her own with her six-week old daughter, Coco, she didn’t know where to turn for help.

With her husband Errol in Asia working on oil rigs, the new mum had no family nearby, no network, she was on her own. But the assistance of the early childhood nurse from the Bangalow Community Health Centre was a lifeline for the Clunes mother. So when she went to the centre last week for Coco’s two-year check up, she was astounded to find out the nurse’s hours had been reduced.

“It was like a ghost town,” she said. “I believe the nurse is still there but her hours have been cut. I’ve also heard a prenatal class has been cancelled at the centre and the father’s program is gone, too.”
But a North Coast Area Health Spokesman said the nurse had asked for fewer hours.

“For personal reasons, the early childhood nurse requested a reduction in her hours and the service re-categorised the position as 0.6 fulltime equivalent,” the spokesman said.

“Local demand for ante-natal classes has been met by continuing the six-week program on Tuesday nights, with similar programs being offered in Ballina.

“It is recognised both locally and outside the area that Bangalow Community Health offers a quality of antenatal and family support services that is superior to other regional areas in the state.

From feedback received it is clear that local families appreciate the support offered and are aware that the focus is on reducing the clinical risks to mothers and babies in the peri-natal period (before and after birthing).

The service receives very few complaints and when any concerns are raised the hard-working frontline staff, and NCAHS, work to address these.

“Until recently the coordinator of the men’s group a fulltime staff member of Bangalow Community Health ran this after-hours program on a time-in-lieu basis. He is no longer prepared to do this, so the service cannot be continued.”

The spokesman did not say if any of these services were changed to fix the $200m hole in the state health budget.

Lismore paediatrician Dr Chris Ingall said no matter what the reason, when services closed it was a concern.

“When people leave these positions, they won’t be refilled and services will stop,” he said.


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