Health service preys on religion
AFTER almost 20 years serving the patients, families and staff at Lismore Base Hospital, the chaplain’s position is likely to be scrapped.
As the North Coast Area Health Service moves deeper into round three of its job cuts, the chaplain has entered its sights.
“Most rural hospitals don’t have a full-time, salaried chaplain,” health service chief executive Chris Crawford said.
“We’ve been looking up hill and down dale for where we can remove positions that won’t impact clinical, frontline services.
“If I had to choose between providing clinical services and paid religious services, I’d have to go with the clinical services.”
Mr Crawford said the chaplain’s work could be done by volunteers.
He said a final decision to abolish the post had not yet been made, but The Northern Star understands the current chaplain, the Reverend Ivan Dehnert, has been offered voluntary redundancy with a view to winding up the job by next Friday.
While Mr Dehnert could not comment, former Lismore Base Hospital chaplain the Reverend Peter Hill said the position was vital.
Chaplains provided counselling, palliative care, co-ordinated trauma groups, established cardiac groups and often assisted in intensive care, he said.
“A lot of that wouldn’t be there to be offered,” Mr Hill said. “The chaplain is very much the person on the ground.”
State Lismore MP Thomas George said it was a disgrace.
“How low can they go? To rip this service away from patients just shows the community how the NCAHS is putting budgets before people’s needs,” he said.
“It’s a disgrace. No other word could describe it.”
Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell was yesterday registering her opposition directly with the health service.
The impact of the loss of the chaplain would be ‘enormous’, she said.
“Not only on people who are in hospital as patients, but also patients’ families – families that are going through life-threatening situations,” she said.
“It requires highly skilled and dedicated workers and to not have them there is a grave mistake.”
DOES LISMORE BASE HOSPITAL NEED A CHAPLAIN?
Phone 6624 3266 or SMS 0428 264 948