St Vincent's Lismore private hospital in Lismore.
St Vincent's Lismore private hospital in Lismore. Marc Stapelberg

'Concerted community response' behind ward reopening

THE Northern Rivers community has reacted positively to news that St Vincent's Private Hospital in Lismore has reopened its palliative care ward.

The Northern Star readers expressed their satisfaction with the announcement via social media.

Nancy Armbruster Shepherd said: "Best decision! Shouldn't have closed in the first place... the hierarchy need to put patients, their loved ones and staff before $$$$”.

Jenny Murphy said her brother passed away at the hospital "and the staff were wonderful. He knew a lot of the staff from his younger days growing in Lismore so it made him feel he was among friends. Should never have closed. Thank you to the amazing g staff who cared for Terry.”

In a statement, Catholic Bishop Gregory Homeming said he was also pleased with the news.

"This comes after a concerted community response,” the statement said.

"Many local residents contacted Bishop Greg about the closure. He forwarded their letters and messages to the Chief Executive Officer, Mr Steve Brierley for attention, and he responded to all concerns compassionately.”

Bishop Homeming reiterated that he was not involved in the management of St Vincent's Hospital in any way.

"This remains the responsibility of specialists qualified in hospital management and development,” he said.

Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive, Wayne Jones, said all facilities within the area provided palliative care for acute patients in hospital, and that the health authorities also had an agreement with St Vincent's Private Hospital in Lismore, where an average six beds were used by public patients at any one time.

"We provide services through a multi-disciplinary team which includes specialist palliative care physicians, clinical nurse specialists, allied health practitioners and community nurses,” he said.

"Patients who are at the end of life may be initially assessed in one facility and then transferred to a facility closer to home, where they can be cared for by clinical nurse specialists and two palliative care nurses.”

Three new community-based palliative care nurse practitioners have been employed across the health district within the last three years, Mr Jones said.

A further eight palliative care nurses will be allocated across the state under the NSW Government's $45 million enhancement in the 2019-20 Budget for 60 positions in rural and regional areas.



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