Com­mu­nity ad­vo­cate fears his­tory may re­peat it­self

Tweed Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - Rick Koenig rick.koenig@tweed­dai­

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.

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