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Mayor calls for phone to be reinstated

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Reconnecting the telephone at Lucindale’s Health Centre would be a first step towards healing a rift between the community and the $243 million Limestone Coast Local Health Network (LCLHN) which slashed its services.

Naracoorte Lucindale mayor Patrick Ross hoped the phone line would be reinstated by the end of last week, or early this week.

“There’s way too much uncertainty within the community and that needs to be abated straightaway,” Mr Ross said.

“There is a desperate need to deescalate the situation of disappointment within the community.

“We need to get the phone reinstated at Lucindale.”

The next step was to reinstate nursing services as they were prior to the changes.

A private meeting last week was held in the town’s rarely used council chambers, organised by the LCLHN.

Patients, the public and media were not allowed to attend.

Reflecting on the event which lasted 1.5 hours and included more than 20 people, Mr Ross said he “welcomed everyone” to the meeting.

In attendance were organisers, LCLHN chair Grant King, and CEO Emma Poland, who also facilitated it.

While there was no agenda, around 10 other LCLHN nurses and public servants from Mount Gambier and Naracoorte also attended.

Esteemed local medical experts included rural specialist GPs Dr David Senior and Dr Clare Garner as well as Lucindale’s highly qualified nurses, Wanda Banning, Ali Napper and Amanda Carter.

Local civic leaders included Cr Abigail Goodman, Cr Trevor Rayner as well as Mr Ross.

Other group leaders at the meeting were Lucindale Health Centre Trust chairman Kate Rayner, Stand Like Stone foundation chair Georgie McKay, Linc chair Louise Stock and disability advocate Ashley Reynolds.

As previously reported by The [Naracoorte Community] News, despair, chaos and angst had erupted as a result of new management which slashed services, including two months of vaccinations.

Health centre doors were locked most of the time, then the phone line was diverted. Sick and elderly people who could not drive were told to travel round trips of 80kms even though they could not drive. There is no public transport.

And it was all done without any consultation, upsetting a community still reeling from several major bushfires, the death of a CFS volunteer and the murder of its policeman.

Naracoorte Lucindale mayor Patrick Ross said the community had lost confidence in the LCLHN and its department – Country Health Connect

“This whole business has made people disengage,” Mr Ross said.

“They (the community) don’t know what is happening, or whether they can go there or when it is available.

“We know the decision did not come from the Health Minister (Chris Picton), it did not come from Adelaide.

“We know it (the decision) wasn’t about money, Grant King told us that at the meeting.

“I made it very clear at the meeting that the service was not a walk-in service, and it never had been a walk-in service, it had always been a service by appointment.

“Since the changes, it seems clear; there are members of the community who have tried to make appointments, and that has been difficult.

“So, a recommendation from the meeting was to reinstate the phone lines – I was hoping that would be done by (the end of last week).”

Mr Reynolds said he was grateful Ms Poland organised the meeting and took the time to travel to Lucindale.

“I think Emma Poland listened and seemed genuinely concerned about what was really happening at Lucindale,” Mr Reynolds said.

“I think she will sincerely consider everything that was said at the meeting.”

Last Friday Ms Poland issued a joint statement with input from mayor Ross.

She said it was a productive and respectful meeting, with discussion including:

  • A sense in the community that there has been a reduction in the level of service and a subsequent loss of trust and uncertainty over access to services.
  • Community feedback and concerns regarding the impact for access to community nursing services as a result of the change to booking processes and documentation requirements.
  • The reasons for the changes to booking processes and documentation requirements.
  • Ways we can work together to provide access to safe and effective community nursing services close to home for our Lucindale community.

“It was agreed for the LCLHN to convene a small working group including LCLHN management, staff, GPs, and community to review the way in which we provide access to safe and effective community nursing services close to home for our Lucindale community,” Ms Poland said.

“The review is to consider:

  • The scope of community nursing services;
  • The need for services, in particular those at the Lucindale health Centre, to be consistent, reliable and predictable;
  • Documentation processes which are as efficient as possible;
  • Ease of access and ways to effectively “open the door” to community;
  • The role of health service providers in Lucindale including community nursing, GPs, community paramedics and private providers; and
  • What and how we communicate with our community to help rebuild trust and confidence in accessing community nursing services in Lucindale.”

The working group will be formed and have its first meeting by the end of April, 2024.

The Naracoorte News 10 April 2024

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.

Related stories: Ssh! Secret meeting!, Nurse Ali ‘saved my leg’Bureaucrats on notice – working groups to formGovernment tells sick and elderly to drive 80km

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