LAST BID FOR HOSPITAL
Community advocate fears history may repeat itself
FORMER cancer patients and health advocates say the need for a new hospital far outweighs the bitter feud surrounding the proposed Tweed Valley Hospital site at Cudgen.
Kingscliff local Jayne Henry, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in January and just recently completed chemotherapy, said she chose to get radiation treatment at John Flynn Private Hospital in Tugan to avoid the daily crawl from Kingscliff to either Lismore or Brisbane.
“I opted to pay for treatment because the only other option was to drive to Lismore or Brisbane, I couldn’t do that every day, I had to work and it wasn’t just once a week, you have to get it every day for 5-6 weeks,” Ms Henry said.
“Having a new hospital nearby would have been so much easier, as wonderful as the current hospital is, it’s past its due date as such and we need a new hospital desperately, it’s a fact.
“Not only that, we’re limited with procedures and we need to have a state-of-the-art facility in our shire that can perform those major surgeries, especially considering we have such an ageing and growing population.”
Ms Henry said she supported the proposed site at Cudgen and slammed the divide the debate had caused in the community.
“I’ve been abused in public places for saying I support the current site, everyone is entitled to their opinion,” she said.
“We support the farmers, but at the end of the day we need a hospital more than we need sweet potatoes.”
Kingscliff community and health advocate Nerida Dean, who regularly volunteers with Cancer Council Australia, said she feared history would repeat itself following a similar situation in Queanbeyan near Canberra in the early 2000s.
support the farmers, but at the end of the day we need a hospital more than we need sweet potatoes.
— Jayne Henry
Ms Dean said she was the chairman of the local Health Council there when it was announced a new hospital would be built by the State Government.
She said the hospital was originally chosen to be built at the local showgrounds before a vocal minority intervened.
“I went overseas for five weeks and a small group of people objected to it and held a meeting no one knew about and somehow convinced the government to move the hospital elsewhere,” she said.
“It was an absolute nightmare, it took years to build the hospital and it was trying for staff, clients and patients, the worst part was they ran into problems and couldn’t build a third storey like originally planned.
“I’ve seen what can happen when a small group of people who are more concerned about their vested interests get involved, and we ended up having to compromise the size of the hospital.”
Ms Dean said Kings
Forest, which has been touted as a possible location following a ramped up public advertising campaign, should not be considered as it was previously ruled out in the original selection process.
She also ruled out any sites north of the river.
“It’s imperative it’s south of the river and built as soon as possible as we are in dire need,” she said.
“There are people in this area who have to withdraw from cancer treatment because they don’t have the
funds or ability to get to a hospital where the treatment is being delivered.
“For elderly people and young families, they need a hospital here that provides all of the services, the longer the time frame and debate goes, the higher the chances are that we won’t get the hospital we deserve in this area.
“It’s not political, it’s simply from my past experience of being where a new hospital was urgently needed, all the concern should be about patients and what their needs are.”
Ms Dean said it was “sad” there could not be a personal discussion about the hospital site “without being heckled or put down”.
“When I told my friends at my book club that I was speaking out about the hospital, they said I was so brave because of all the nasty stuff that is going on online,” she said.
“My prime consideration is the hospital is built as soon as possible and I think it’s time we listen to the medical professionals who know what the health needs are for the community.”
NO MORE WAITING: Former cancer patient Nerida Dean is concerned the new hospital could be delayed. INSET: Jayne Henry was forced to go to a private hospital for cancer treatment rather than drive to Brisbane.