Casino mother Rhonda Byrnes nurses her injured hand while holding one of her children, Tyler Fardon, 3.
Casino mother Rhonda Byrnes nurses her injured hand while holding one of her children, Tyler Fardon, 3. Jacklyn Wagner

Hospital had no doctor for me

THE Casino and District Memorial Hospital’s doors were closed to people seeking emergency medical treatment and ambulances for 15 hours from Monday afternoon until Tuesday morning.

Casino woman Rhonda Byrnes’ day went from bad to worse when she was turned away from the hospital on Monday after sustaining a deep cut to her hand from a glass while at work in a Casino pub.

“I am quite disgusted Casino hasn’t got proper medical facilities,” Ms Byrnes said.

She arrived at the hospital just after 5pm and was told by the staff the doctor would be finishing work at 6pm sharp, after which no doctor would be available.

With a waiting room full of people ahead of her, the nurse advised Ms Byrnes to go to Lismore to have her hand stitched.

Ms Byrnes then tried to see a doctor at three different surgeries in Casino, but no one was available.

So she went home.

“I’ve got eight children. I couldn’t leave them to go to Lismore” she said.

Ms Byrnes eventually got the stitches she needed at Casino Hospital the following afternoon.

However, because so much time had lapsed they were unable to stitch her hand properly.

Ms Brynes, who suffers from epilepsy, said it worried her emergency medical treatment was not available in Casino around the clock.

“What if one of the kids gets bitten by a snake? Do we take them to Lismore?” she asked.

The Ambulance Service of NSW said the hospital advised last Friday it would have no medical officer coverage from 5pm Monday until 8am on Tuesday.

During this time two Casino-based patients were diverted by ambulance to the Lismore Base
Hospital, one suffering from breathing difficulties.

A spokesperson for the North Coast Area Health Service blamed an Australia-wide shortage of doctors for the periods of time during which doctors were not available at the Casino.

“This is not a regular occurrence,” the spokesperson said.

North Coast Area Health Service has recently employed a full-time medical officer at the hospital and it was hoped this move would assist with the doctor shortage, the spokesperson said.


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