HEART OF PROB­LEM

‘Crum­bling’ hos­pi­tal: Pa­tients di­verted due to roof re­pairs

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Elisha Pearce

SOME heart at­tack pa­tients are be­ing di­verted from Ne­pean Hos­pi­tal for large parts of the work­ing week af­ter a crit­i­cal med­i­cal lab­o­ra­tory was closed.

The lab­o­ra­tory’s ceil­ing had been propped up by sup­ports but was then con­sid­ered un­safe and was closed for full re­pair works.

Assess­ing the state of the “crit­i­cal” west block med­i­cal build­ing, a se­nior doc­tor said there were fur­ther “pock­ets that re­quire ur­gent re­pair”.

An­other doc­tor, speak­ing anony­mously, said the State Gov­ern­ment had ne­glected Ne­pean Hos­pi­tal for so long it could not main­tain its own in­fra­struc­ture.

PA­TIENTS re­quir­ing ur­gent heart at­tack pro­ce­dures are be­ing di­verted from Ne­pean Hos­pi­tal af­ter a med­i­cal lab was closed be­cause the ceil­ing was deemed too weak.

And in an­other blow, a new MRI ma­chine can­not be housed in the med­i­cal block’s imag­ing depart­ment be­cause the power would not cope.

Ear­lier this year the catheter­i­sa­tion (cath) lab, used to re­store the blocked blood ves­sels of heart at­tack pa­tients, re­quired build­ing sup­ports to hold the ceil­ing up. In July the lab was closed for re­pairs.

Hos­pi­tal med­i­cal staff coun­cil chair­woman Dr Nhi Nguyen con­firmed that the lab was too dan­ger­ous to be used.

“The ser­vice be­ing lost at the mo­ment pro­vides ur­gent stent­ing of blocked heart ves­sels,’’ she said.

“It is rec­om­mended to be done within an hour of pre­sen­ta­tion.”

Dr Nguyen said the hos­pi­tal knew of the prob­lem months ago but strug­gled to fund re­pairs.

Heart at­tack pa­tients re­quir­ing time-sen­si­tive pro­ce­dures are be­ing di­verted from Ne­pean Hos­pi­tal from 7am to 7pm Mon­day to Thurs­day.

Out­pa­tient ser­vices in the area around the fifth-floor cath lab also had to be moved.

Health Min­is­ter Jil­lian Skinner’s of­fice for­warded The Stan­dard’s ques­tions to the lo­cal health dis­trict.

Ne­pean Hos­pi­tal act­ing gen­eral man­ager Brett Will- iams said that out­side the di­ver­sion hours, car­diac ser­vices had been re­lo­cated within the hos­pi­tal and that re­pair works would be com­pleted in Septem­ber.

“Ne­pean Hos­pi­tal re­mains safe for pa­tients to visit and re­ceive their health care,” he said.

“Ne­pean Hos­pi­tal will con­tinue to re­ceive am­bu­lances con­vey­ing pa­tients with sus­pected heart at­tacks, ex­cept be­tween 7am and 7pm Mon­day to Thurs­day.”

Dr Nguyen said the west block build­ing had sev­eral other “pock­ets that re­quire ur­gent re­pair”.

An­other doc­tor, who spoke to The Stan­dard anony­mously, said the hos­pi­tal was “crum­bling”.

The doc­tor said the state of dis­re­pair would em­bar­rass the gov­ern­ment so staff were not sup­posed to talk about the lab clo­sure.

“It’s been kept a bit hush­hush. Ba­si­cally, we’re not al­lowed to talk about it,” he said.

Dr Nguyen said: “The west block is a key clin­i­cal area and it’s cer­tainly start­ing to show its age.”

Pen­rith state Lib­eral MP Stu­art Ayres said the gov­ern­ment was plan­ning fu­ture hos­pi­tal up­grades and staff there de­liver “world­class health care”.

Scaf­fold­ing at Ne­pean Hos­pi­tal to re­pair the cath lab ceil­ing.

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