Former Lismore Private Hospital employees (from left) Jenny Wykes, Debbie Whalan, Vicki McCarthy, Katherine Parker, Jan Korenzia, Peter Davis, Lynda Hicks, Suskia Travis and Margaret Brennan at a support session organised by Page MP Janelle Saffin and Centerlink.
Former Lismore Private Hospital employees (from left) Jenny Wykes, Debbie Whalan, Vicki McCarthy, Katherine Parker, Jan Korenzia, Peter Davis, Lynda Hicks, Suskia Travis and Margaret Brennan at a support session organised by Page MP Janelle Saffin and Centerlink. Jay Cronan

Hospital's end distressing

DEVASTATED staff involved in Lismore Private Hospital’s sudden closure have described their final days at the facility as distressing and traumatic.

The former employees yesterday regrouped at an emergency information and support session at Lismore City Hall, organised by Page MPJanelle Saffin and Centrelink.

According to staff the receivers, Ferrier Hodgson, rang families of patients at 4am last Friday giving them till the end of the day to pick up their loved ones.

They also allege people acting on behalf of the receivers told them to throw out personal items that patients had left behind – things like toiletries, slippers and mobile phone chargers.

Some staff brought the patients’ property to the meeting in the hope of somehowreturning it to them.

Cleaning and catering staff members, Debbie Whalan Vicki McCarthy and JanKorenzia, were close to tears as they considered their next moves.

“We were like one big happy family there,” Ms McCarthy said. “Even though we weren’t being paid we kept doing it for the patients. They were like our family.”

Ms Korenzia said: “I’ve never worked anywhere like it. The nurses treated us like equals and we all pulledtogether to make the place work.

“It was the workers who kept that place going. The managers treated us like crap.”

The staff say they feel betrayed and abandoned, and they are not sure where to turn.

Staff members say they were told by the receivers last Thursday that they would get all their pay and entitlements – then on Friday they were told they would get nothing.

Staff members have lost up to six months’ superannuation and up to three weeks’ pay. For some staff, that leaves them out of pocket by up to $18,000.

To add insult to injury, some staff were even issued final payslips for the unpaid period.

Receiver Morgan Kelly denied the staff’s allegations and said his people had acted honourably.

He said all contact with the patients and the patients’ families was done through their doctors and the health department, and was handled inside normal hospital office hours.

Mr Kelly said he was unaware of patients leaving goods behind, and if they had, every effort would have been made to return them to their rightful owners.

Related stories:

http://www.northernstar.com.au/story/2010/03/02/staff-crushed-by-hospital-closure/

http://www.northernstar.com.au/story/2010/03/01/patients-moved-out-of-hospital/

http://www.northernstar.com.au/story/2010/02/27/hospital-will-reopen-within-weeks/



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