HEART OF PROBLEM
‘Crumbling’ hospital: Patients diverted due to roof repairs
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.