A 2005 protest outside Coraki Hospital.
A 2005 protest outside Coraki Hospital.

Doubts over claim

AT A meeting held in Coraki on Thursday, some members of the Save the Coraki Hospital committee distanced themselves from claims that linked the closure of the Campbell Hospital to a double normal death rate at a Coraki aged care facility.

Coraki GP Rosy Craig told The Northern Star aged residents at the BCS Mid Richmond Centre facility located next to the hospital were dying at a higher rate than usual because they did not want to be transferred to hospitals outside of Coraki.

According to Dr Craig, 11 patients had died at the aged-care facility since September. She said she would not expect to see such a large increase in the number of deaths.

The usual rate was one a month. That would mean about five deaths.

However, some members of the committee meeting did not support linking the higher number of deaths to the closure.

The claims have also been refuted by Northern NSW Local Health District chief executive Chris Crawford.

"There has not been a single death that was not unexpected; all have been natural deaths, according to advice received from the Mid Richmond Retirement Village," Mr Crawford said.

More than 100 people attended the meeting where they committed to dig into their pockets to cover the cost of repairing their leaking hospital.

The hospital has been closed since it sustained hail damage during a storm in late September.

Committee chairman Gerard Criss drew a large round of applause when he said the residents of Coraki could raise the $17,400 to repair storm damage sustained by the beleaguered hospital.

"The structural engineer's report (on the hospital) confirms that the damage to the building is minor," he said.

"What is telling is that from the 39 items listed in the 'schedule of works', only the last two deal with the storm damage.

"$99,200 is what the insurer would cover leaving $17,400 the Local Health District Board is responsible for due to a lack of maintenance done to the box gutter system."

However, Mr Crawford said just fixing the storm damage and reopening the hospital was not the solution.

"The quick-fix approach was adopted 18 months ago and this has led to the current situation, where the hospital was closed again by another two storms," he said.

"Should it be determined by the NNSW LHD board that re- opening Campbell Hospital is the best way to provide services to the Coraki Community in the long term, the hospital needs to undergo a more comprehensive upgrade before it could reopen.

"To provide the type of infrastructure that supports a good environment for providing modern health care, around $1.85 million would need to be spent upgrading the hospital.

"NNSW LHD board has said that it wants a clinical services plan developed for the Coraki and surrounds community.

"A clinical services plan will set out how best to provide health services to the Coraki and surrounds community."


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