Fears for safety at health fa­cil­ity after guard’s jaw bro­ken

The Cairns Post - - FRONT PAGE - GRACE MA­SON­

SE­CU­RITY at a Far North­ern health fa­cil­ity has been beefed up with staff fear­ing for their safety after a guard was se­verely bashed and the build­ing pelted with rocks twice.

Yarrabah’s emer­gency depart­ment was shut down overnight fol­low­ing cri­sis talks be­tween health au­thor­i­ties, po­lice, com­mu­nity el­ders and union of­fi­cials to re­view se­cu­rity at the Bukki Rd fa­cil­ity.

A po­lice spokesman con­firmed a 50year-old se­cu­rity guard had to un­dergo emer­gency fa­cial surgery on a bro­ken jaw and had sev­eral teeth knocked out after he was hit by ei­ther a wooden pal­ing or a base­ball bat in the cen­tre’s carpark.

He said the guard had gone out­side to in­ves­ti­gate after rocks were thrown at the emer­gency depart­ment and was at­tacked early last Fri­day morn­ing.

The build­ing was tar­geted with rocks for a sec­ond time on Mon­day night. In­ves­ti­ga­tions into both in­ci­dents are con­tin­u­ing.

Cairns and Hin­ter­land Hos­pi­tal and Health Ser­vice ru­ral and re­mote ser­vices ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Gabrielle Honey­wood said se­cu­rity at the fa­cil­ity would now be tripled to three guards at night.

She said nurs­ing staff had been switched from on-call to overnight shift work so they did not have to travel be­tween liv­ing quar­ters and the fa­cil­ity during the night.

Up­grades to se­cu­rity hard­ware, in­clud­ing ex­tra light­ing, ex­tra duress alarms and up­grades to se­cu­rity cam­eras will be­gin this week.

The health ser­vice is jointly run by the Gur­riny Yeala­mucka Pri­mary Health Care Cen­tre, which op­er­ates a pri­mary care fa­cil­ity during the day, and CHHHS, which op­er­ates the emer­gency depart­ment through­out the day and on an on-call ba­sis at night.

During the night there is a doc­tor and two nurses avail­able who will now work on ros­tered shifts. There has been no im­pact on the daily Gur­riny Yeala­mucka op­er­a­tions.

Far North po­lice Supt Ge­off Shel­don said po­lice would be­gin con­duct­ing ex­tra pa­trols at night.

To­gether Union’s Cairns health rep­re­sen­ta­tive Dr Sandy Don­ald said the union shared the CHHHS’s con­cerns over safety.

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