Clinic sends patients on their way

An 82-year-old woman with two black eyes, blood on her face and swollen lips was told the Pambula Hospital assessment, treatment and care clinic was unable to help her and was left to find further medical help.

After returning home very late on October 30, Margaret Kirkwood fell on her driveway sustaining injuries to her face. The next day she decided to try out the clinic after reading that patients were being urged to use it.

“When I got there the nurse took one look at me and said ‘we’re not allowed to touch faces,’” Ms Kirkwood said.

“I said you’re joking aren’t you,” Ms Kirkwood said.

The nurse said the South East Regional Hospital (SERH) would be able to help her but Ms Kirkwood, who lives at Eden, said she wasn’t up to driving the distance.

“I was told they could ring an ambulance but then how would I get back again,” she said.

Ms Kirkwood then rang the Curalo Medical Centre but as the nurse was not available decided to go to the Eden ambulance station.

“They took me into the station and did everything they should have done at Pambula Hospital,” an angry Ms Kirkwood said.

“The paramedics were not impressed and filled out an incident report. The lass there was wonderful and said she would like someone to look at my face and I took myself to Dr Pentin who saw me straightaway and was marvellous.”

The incident highlights the concerns of local paramedics about what will happen over the Christmas period when visitors go to Pambula Hospital expecting to be treated for minor injuries and ailments. There are fears that the emergency department at SERH could become chaotic.

In the meantime SOHI (Save Our Hospital Inc) committee members have talked with Health Minister Jillian Skinner, Bega MP Andrew Constance and CEO of the Local Health District Janet Compton in an effort to get a doctor at Pambula over the summer season.

SOHI president Sharon Tapscott said there was a recognition that the clinic wasn’t functioning as expected and wasn’t what was promised. It seems unlikely though that Pambula Hospital will get a doctor even just for Christmas. Mrs Tapscott said the Health Minister had suggested a nurse practitioner as an alternative.

“At the moment we are pleased that the problem has been recognised,” Mrs Tapscott said.