Lismore hospital in receivership
RECEIVERS have shut down the Lismore Private Hospital and told employees and patients to be out by next week, distraught nurses and patients said yesterday.
‘Men in suits’ entered the hospital on Wednesday, ending months of speculationover the facility’s financial situation.
Owners and operators, Daniel Owen and Kerry Ferguson, were unavailable for comment yesterday, despite assuring staff and patients as late as last Friday that the Lismore facility could still ‘pay its own way’.
Up to 50 nurses and staff, who haven’t been paid for three weeks, have been told they will only be paid from Wednesday and they won’t receive their outstanding leave and superannuation entitlements.
“Nurses down there are in tears,” said one nurse who rang in late yesterday afternoon asking to remain anonymous. “They don’t even know how they will cover their rent and mortgage payments that are due today.”
Gina Flemming’s ill, elderly mother has been heartlessly ordered out of the hospital.
“The receivers walked in the door and told the everyone to leave by next week,” she said.
“What are they going to do? My mother is in the middle of rehabilitation from a serious car accident.
“Are they just going to throw them on the streets and let them get themselves better?
“This is the only place for this form of rehab on the North Coast. It is absolutely unbelievable that this has occurred.”
An angry NSW Nurses’ Association general secretary Brett Holmes said the situation was an indictment on the owners.
“It is atrocious for patients and nurses to be treated this way,” he said.
“I call upon the North Coast Area Health Service to do everything in its power to help these patients and nurses.”
The receivers are also winding up Owen Ferguson Health facilities in East Melbourne, Victoria, and Mackay in Queensland.
Contrary to yesterday’s actions, Morgan Kelly, of Ferrier Hodgson receivers, said it was too early to have a clear view of the future of each facility and that determining the status of employees’ entitlements ‘remained a high priority’.
“Our key interest is to maintain the highest standard of patient care and to provide a safe environment for all patients,” he said in a statement, blaming critical under-capitalisation for the failure of Owen Ferguson Health.
Mr Owen said last Friday that he and his wife still wanted to retire to the Northern Rivers ‘if the region would still have them’. Dozens of nurses and patients might not feel so accommodating.