LET ME STAY: Long-term Baralaba Hospital patient Eric Hamilton (centre) with great granddaughters Melaine and Aimee Hamilton, wants to stay at the hospital despite plans to move permanent elderly patients to other nearby hospitals due to fire.
LET ME STAY: Long-term Baralaba Hospital patient Eric Hamilton (centre) with great granddaughters Melaine and Aimee Hamilton, wants to stay at the hospital despite plans to move permanent elderly patients to other nearby hospitals due to fire.

Hospital shuts out Elderly

ROBERT Hamilton fears his grandfather Eric could have his last supper this Easter.

The 88-year-old patriarch of the four-generation Baralaba family is one of the long-term Baralaba Hospital patients set to be moved out after Easter with the multi-purpose facility likely not to take overnight stays due to fire safety concerns.

“If they shift him, the stress is that bad he won't be around that long,” Mr Hamilton said.

Central Queensland Health Service District chief executive Dr Coralee Barker said a range of options was being considered to accommodate patients who required overnight admission, including the use of other hospitals such as Biloela and Moura.

“The timber hospital was built in 1922 and a recent trial evacuation exercise raised concerns about staff and patient safety in the event of a fire,” Dr Barker said

Emergency services, outpatients, and day-only services will not be affected at the hospital.

Meals on Wheels will continue to operate from the hospital, and the General Practice will have no changes.

Dr Barker said no decision had been made about the next step with no overnight stays one option and another being patients who can walk can remain overnight.

A decision will be made on the best option after consultation with families, staff and the community, which is expected to be completed by next week.

“Every effort will be made to ensure their wishes are carried out, but I cannot let the facility remain as it is while there is an unacceptable fire risk.”

Dr Barker said hospital jobs were safe.

“There is no agenda to cut services or reduce staff numbers, this situation is purely because of the fire risk posed.”

She said Queensland Health has been working towards a new facility in Baralaba for some time with funding announced in September last year.

A request for tenders for the principal design consultants for the program will go to the market by the end of April, with work set to start in June.

A hospital employee told Central Telegraph staff he had been telling management for years the hospital was a fire hazard.

“They ignored staff (concerns) for years.

“We are not the only country hospital to be a fire hazard - why are they picking on us?”

The employee said staff were trying not to rush and exert themselves at the fire drill, but then stop watches were pulled out at the end.

Dr Barker said this was not the case but it has left the staff feeling responsible for the patients being moved.

“The staff are terrified as they think it was them that let the patients down,” the employee said.

“The staff are dedicated to their patients.

“They (patients) will get deeply depressed and they'll be dead in a fortnight [if they are moved].

“There is no way in hell any of those patients will be alive (to see the new hospital).”

The employee said they have survived a red back spider infestation and storm damage when patients had to be moved.

“The smiles on their faces when we brought them back in wheelchairs to the hospital, you can see they were so glad to be home.”

But the employee said the staff and community are ready for a fight.

“They picked on the wrong community.

“We're not going to take it.”


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