Paul, forced to walk home from hospital at 2am, told it won’t happen again

Step 4 - chest pains at Glebe Lagoon. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Paul had to stop after chest pains returned near Glebe Lagoon in Bega. Photo: Ian Campbell.

A Bega man who was told to walk home from South East Regional Hospital (SERH) at 2am says his confidence in the local health service has improved.

Paul’s outrageous story drew a strong response from the About Regional community when it was first published in late November.

He had already made an official complaint about his shoddy treatment but was yet to receive an explanation or apology. In the days that followed the publication of Paul’s story, he was invited to a meeting with new hospital chief, Wendy Hubbard.

“She apologised for what had happened and told me new systems were in place to stop it happening again,” Paul says.

Paul is not his real name. In sharing his story Paul didn’t want to embarrass friends and clients that work at the new facility and asked to remain anonymous. He did however want to see change and a better standard of care for the community that has been his home for 20 years.

It seems he has achieved that.

It opens Friday, December 15, the Carers and Relatives Accommodation at South East Regional Hospital in Bega. Photo: Ian Campbell
It opens Friday, December 15, the Carers and Relatives Accommodation at South East Regional Hospital in Bega. Photo: Ian Campbell

Paul’s story starts with chest pains after dinner one Sunday evening in early September, after a day of feeling funny he and his partner called for an ambulance.

After five hours in care, Paul was told he hadn’t had a heart attack but was suffering from angina. By that stage, the hospital clock was saying 1:30 am and with a diagnosis in hand, Paul was advised to see his GP as soon as possible.

“They [then] gave me a blanket and said I’d have to walk home,” Paul explains.

Paul arrived at the hospital with his partner five hours earlier via ambulance, they had no car, no way of getting home.

“We have lots of friends, but it was two o’clock in the morning, we didn’t want to impose on people,” he says.

No other option was offered – no bed, no ride home, just a blanket to guard against the early spring chill.

“I did say – I can’t walk home with angina,” Paul says.

During the four-kilometre walk home, Paul had to stop on the path at Glebe Lagoon when the chest pains returned.

Thankfully he made it home and was able to see his doctor on the Wednesday.

South East Regional Hospital
South East Regional Hospital. Photo: SNSWLHD

When I initially published Paul’s story the Health Service pointed to the lack of a taxi service in Bega as being the issue.

“The problem is not that the hospital doesn’t provide transport, but rather that there is only one taxi in Bega and they won’t provide service after hours,” the NSW Health Transport Travel Support Group said.

While accepting that transport is an issue across South East NSW, the community reaction to Paul’s story and the heartless government response has prompted a rethink from the Health Service, with many people reporting similar tales of being stranded by a system that seemed to not care or understand life in a country setting.

In a subsequent statement to About Regional, a spokesperson for Southern NSW Local Health District confirmed that in the future patients will be offered an overnight stay in the hospital to help manage transport issues.

“To avoid similar incidents arising in the future Emergency Department (ED) staff will be able to raise potential patient transport issues with the After Hours Nurse Manager,” a Health spokesperson said.

“[Staff] will talk to the patient and consider any options, including an offer to stay overnight.”

Furthermore, the spokesperson said, “On December 15 the SERH on-site Carers and Relatives Accommodation will be opened, which will provide a further option for people in a similar situation.”

Paul says he feels vindicated and trusts that this won’t happen again.

“I appreciated the apology Wendy offered and I got a sense she is working to make things better,” Paul says.

“It seems there was a lack of understanding by agency and locum staff on duty the night I arrived.”

Under new District Cheif Executive, Andrew Newton further operational and cultural changes have been flagged inline with the review initiated by the NSW Health Minister.

Confidence in the sparkling new facility and some of its staff has been shattered on the back of a raft of issues since the hospitals opening in early 2016.

A few finishing touches before Friday's grand opening of the Careers and Relatives Accommodation. Photo: Ian Campbell
A few finishing touches before Friday’s grand opening of the Careers and Relatives Accommodation. Photo: Ian Campbell

The Carers Accommodation that opens on Friday is perhaps an opportunity to reinvigorate people’s trust.

Like so many things, the construction of this building has been driven by community fundraising coordinated by Bega Valley service clubs but embraced by people and organistaions around South East NSW, as well as State and Federal Governments and big business.

An 18-bed facility for carers is the full vision, six motel style rooms with their own ensuite will open on Friday representing stages one and two.

The community is invited to look through the new building between 2 and 5pm.

Paul is not surprised that the community has stepped up the way it has around his story or how it has rallied around the need to build carers and relative accommodation for a hospital that services communities from Batemans Bay to Jindabyne to Mallacoota.

He hangs on to the blanket he was given on that cold September night as a reminder that systems and bureaucracy are meant to serve people.

*About Regional content happens because of the financial contributions of members, thank you to Snowy Monaro Regional Council, Geoff Berry, Tania Ward, Jill Howell and Max Wilson, Ingrid Mitchell and Deb Nave, Therese and Denis Wheatley, Bronnie Taylor, Fiona Firth, and Scott Halfpenny.

Bombala kids shape design of all abilities playground

A vision for Bombala's new all abilities playground by students at St Joseph's. Photo: Snowy Monaro Regional Council
A vision for Bombala’s new all abilities playground by students at St Joseph’s. Photo: Snowy Monaro Regional Council

Buddy benches and reflection ponds are just a couple of the bright ideas Bombala students have come up with as part of their studies into playground design.

Students from St Joseph’s Primary School have just presented a range of thoughtful and captivating 3D playground models, paving the way for future playground construction in Bombala.

Following months of hard work, their final playground designs have been pitched to staff from Snowy Monaro Regional Council – Major Projects Manager Linda Nicholson, and Recreation and Property Technical Officer Jane Kanowski, as well as family and friends.

“All the students should be very proud of their efforts,” Linda says.

The students designed and built a playground space that incorporated elements of physical, social, mental, and spiritual well-being for people of all ages and abilities – community gardens, slides, handball courts, picnic areas, and bright, colourful equipment, were all part of their vision.

“The designs are very exciting, it was a pleasure working alongside the students – a great community partnership,” Linda says.

Dylan and Alexander Bruce make their pitch to classmates, Council, and family and friends. Photo: Snowy Monaro Regional Council.
Dylan and Alexander Bruce make their pitch to classmates, Council, and family and friends. Photo: Snowy Monaro Regional Council.

A number of valuable skills were picked up along the way, including team work, communication, public speaking, engineering, and building.

A terrific example of project-based learning.

Council staff presented students with a certificate of achievement for their outstanding efforts.

The students will continue their involvement throughout the design and construction of an all-abilities playground in Bombala during 2018.

Lifeguards on Tathra Beach this February need your financial support

Tony McCabe & Kiama Thatcher from the Australian Lifeguard Service patrolling Tathra Beach in 2016. Photo Sarah Chenhall, Sapphire Coast Tourism.
Tony McCabe & Kiama Thatcher from the Australian Lifeguard Service patrolling Tathra Beach in 2016. Photo Sarah Chenhall, Sapphire Coast Tourism.

For the last 3 summers, businesses in Tathra and Bega have worked together to fund a beach safety program that has kept the famous red and yellow flags flying on Tathra Beach during February.

Our golden strip of sand has been the only beach south of Ulladulla with a 7-day-a-week lifeguard service during the final month of summer.

To build on the reputation Tathra has with grey nomads and young families at this magic time of year, the Tathra and District Business Chamber is once again seeking financial support from local businesses and organisations to keep the flags flying in 2018.

“February is a big month in Tathra, many young families and retirees are attracted to our beautiful beach after the busy school holiday period,” Chamber Vice President, Rob White says.

“The feedback from holidaymakers is always terrific, it’s clear that people come to Tathra during February because they know our beach is patrolled, this extends our summer and gives Tathra a point of difference,” Rob says.

Locals know that February is the best time of year on our beaches, daily temperatures are similar to January, but the water is warmer and the winds lighter.

Lifeguards employed by Bega Valley Shire Council keep watch over beach goers Monday to Friday during the summer school holidays, complimenting the outstanding volunteer effort each weekend from Tathra Surf Life Saving Club.

“But once school goes back after Australia Day the Council service stops, leaving visitors to our town and members of our community at risk,” Rob says.

“Council considered working with us to extend their service into February to take the pressure off the community fundraising effort, but we have been told they don’t have the budget.”

The Chamber is now hoping to raise the $13,000 needed to keep professional life guards on Tathra Beach, Monday to Friday from January 29 until February 23.

Secretary of the Chamber, Carmen Risby says the results speak for themselves.

“The extended beach patrols on Tathra Beach during February last year meant that lifeguards were on hand to perform 14 rescues,” Carman says.

“Our stats show that lifeguards kept watch over approximately 6200 people on Tathra Beach during weekdays last February.”

Businesses who take part will receive significant media exposure, and generate tremendous goodwill within the local community.

Thank you to the businesses who have already made a commitment – Tathra Big4, Tathra Beachside, Tathra & District Business Chamber, Tathra Beach House, Tathra Beach Bowling Club, Bendigo Bank, and Tathra Hotel. More are needed to keep the flags flying.

Please contact Rob White at Tathra Beach House Apartments for further information on becoming a business or organisation sponsor – rob@tathrabeachhouse.com.au or phone 6499 9900.

 

#Sponsored content

About Regional Pop-Up Newsroom – what a great day in Bermagui!

The first About Regional Pop-Up Newsroom landed in Bermagui this week, based out of Julie Rutherford Real Estate we uncovered some of the untold stories of this town.

Kelly Eastwood from River Cottage Australia dropped in to share her plans for a deli and cooking school…

The About Regional Pop-Up Newsroom is in #Bermagui upstairs at the harbour at Julie Rutherford Real Estate.This time chatting to Kelly Eastwood about her new deli and cooking school.Drop by with your story between now and 2pm.CheersIan

Posted by About Regional on Tuesday, 5 December 2017

 

Longtime Bermagui fisherman Allan Broadhurst talked about his life on the ocean…

Can't come to #Bermagui and not talk to a real fisherman! Here's one – Allan Broadhurst.The About Regional Pop-Up Newsroom at Julie Rutherford Real Estate.Drop by with your story before 2pm.Thanks for tuning in.Ian

Posted by About Regional on Tuesday, 5 December 2017

 

The team at Marine Rescue Bermagui reinforced my longheld view that “the hills around here” hide some interesting people…

The About Regional Pop-Up Newsroom moves to Marine Rescue Bermagui, chatting to Alec and Richard.What's your story? Drop by Julie Rutherford Real Estate before 2!Thanks for tuning in.Ian

Posted by About Regional on Tuesday, 5 December 2017

 

And then there’s Bruce Frost, a life of volunteering, beekeeping and managing MS, one of the region’s great men…

The About Regional Pop-Up Newsroom is at Julie Rutherford Real Estate, upstairs at #Bermagui Harbour until 2ish. Drop by and share your story.Chatting to Bruce Frost right now talking volunteering, beekeeping, life with MS, and who knows!Thanks for tuning in.Ian

Posted by About Regional on Tuesday, 5 December 2017

 

What a great day! The About Regional Pop-Up Newsroom will happen again in 2018, somewhere in South East NSW.

Cheers

Ian

European Carp making a home in Snowy Monaro waters, but…

European or Common Carp. Photo: Flickr L Church via CSIRO
European or Common Carp. Photo: Flickr L Church via CSIRO

European Carp have been using the warmer water temperatures of spring to move across the Snowy Monaro, bringing their destructive ways into new habitats.

Since the 1850’s, Carp have been spreading out into low land waterways like the Murray-Darling Basin, but in the last ten years, these ferals have been moving into higher elevations, places once thought too cold for them.

Carp were introduced to Australia in an attempt to imitate a European environment – some nice cheese and wine could have done the job!

Despite being a native of Central Asia, carp are extensively farmed in Europe and the Middle East and are a popular angling fish in Europe. Eating carp is also a Christmas tradition in some cultures.

Carp in North America and Canada are also considered a significant pest.

Cooma Region Waterwatch Coordinator, Antia Brademann has eaten carp but doesn’t recommend it. Her interest is working with the community to build knowledge and share information and use it as part of locally tailored control programs.

Posted by Lauren Van Dyke on Sunday, 29 October 2017

 

The Carp Love 20 degrees campaign is key to those ambitions and is helping build a local profile of the fish. The program asks people to report carp sightings to the Feral Fish Scan website.

“Carp have a temperature trigger, so as water temperature gets to 20 degrees, that’s their spawning trigger, they need (and indeed love) that nice warm temperature,” Antia says.

Cooler water temperatures have perhaps slowed the pest’s progress across the Snowy Monaro, that is no longer the case with carp fanning out through the Upper Murrumbidgee River Catchment including the Bredbo and Numeralla Rivers, Cooma Creek, and into Canberra.

“They are moving, looking for suitable spawning habitat, “Antia says.

Locally that habitat looks different to what has been considered normal or ideal carp spawning areas – off stream wetlands, like those of the Lachlan River system, where large amounts of water gathers in shallow areas.

“In the Upper Murrumbidgee, we don’t have those big off stream wetlands, so we weren’t sure what the ideal spawning habitat looked like locally,” Antia says.

“Unfortunately from Carp Love 20 over the last three years, we are finding that carp spawning locally is opportunistic and variable.”

Carp spawning in the Upper Murrumbidgee catchment

Conditions are perfect to spot carp breeding. Anyone can do it! Waterwatch needs your help to better manage this pest species. #carplove20

Posted by ACT Landcare and Waterwatch on Thursday, 2 November 2017

 

A 6kg female can lay up to 1.5 million sticky eggs, attaching them to submerged vegetation or rocks in shallow water where they wait for a male to fertilise.

“We think that carp in this part of the world might have a number of spawning runs outside the traditional October to December window, because of the variability of local temperatures during spring,” Antia explains.

“And in the Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment, carp spawning is unlike the spawning of any other fish.

“You are listening for vigorous splashing, it will be very noticeable,” she says.

Fishing clubs at Numeralla and Bredbo have also been important players in the citizen science underway.

“We’ve found schools of carp that are less than 10cm long in Cooma Creek which tells us that’s a nursery habitat,” Antia says.

“By recording all these sightings and the anecdotal information, we are starting to build a picture of what’s happening in our catchment.”

Apart from scientific satisfaction, those taking part are also encouraged with free Carp Love 20 t-shirts!

Sadly, carp are now the most abundant large freshwater fish in some areas, including most of the Murray-Darling Basin. They have contributed to the degradation of large sections of natural aquatic ecosystems.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries points to the species destructive feeding practices leading to increased turbidity which in turn reduces light penetration, making it difficult for native fish that rely on sight to feed.

“Carp have this way of eating called, mumbling,” Anita says.

“They tear-out a bit of mud, and they suck out the macro-invertebrates and algae, and then they expel that mud out of their gills.”

Reduced light decreases plant growth, while suspended sediments smother plants and clog fishes’ gills.

Anita describes them as “ecosystem engineers” who undermine river banks to create the shallow sludgy environment they prefer.

Australia, meet the Caprinator

Australia – meet The Carpinator. He's going to rid our waterways of carp, by spreading the herpes virus.

Posted by Barnaby Joyce on Monday, 5 June 2017

 

But carp aren’t the only creatures responsible, poor catchment management practices by people have had a more substantial affect, carp have been clever and have been able to move into already degraded environments and build a lifestyle.

Many native species, including Golden Perch, Murray Cod, Silver Perch and Freshwater Catfish were already in decline before the introduction of these ferals into Australian waterways.

The presence of carp in terms of competition for food and the damage they inflict on freshwater habitats makes it difficult for native fish to re-establish.

In the man-made world, carp are also famous for choking water pumps and swamping irrigation channels.

The mapping of carp hotspots across the Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment is important for understanding behaviour and identifying opportunities for control.

The annual Mud Marlin (AKA carp) Fishing Competition run by the Numeralla Fishing Club is a great example of the control effort to date. Over the 13 years of the event, thousands of carp have been fished out of local waterways and disposed of humanely.

Similar events have also been held at Bredbo and Cooma.

Habitat like fallen trees and stumps which were once common in the Numeralla River have been put back in place by local Landcare to provide valuable feeding and breeding areas, as well as protection against predators. Photo: Landcare Australia.
Habitat like fallen trees and stumps which were once common in the Numeralla River have been put back in place by local Landcare to provide valuable feeding and breeding areas, as well as protection against predators. Photo: Landcare Australia.

Local Landcare volunteers have then moved in to restore habitat that better supports restocking with native fish species like Murray Cod and Golden Perch.

Carp warriors across the Snowy Monaro are now gearing up for the next phase in their attack – the carp herpes virus, which will bring on a “carpageddon” according to Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce.

Matt Barwick, Coordinator of the National Carp Control Plan (NCCP) says, “This virus is found in over 33 countries around the world and is specific to carp.”

“Research from the CSIRO over the last eight years has looked at all sorts of different fish species, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans – the only thing that gets disease from this virus is the common carp.”

The $11 million program will culminate with the release of the virus towards the end of 2018, the aim is to reduce carp density below levels known to cause environmental harm.

The NCCP is about to undertake a community briefing session flagging a possible local release. South East Local  Land Services is co-hosting a session at Goulburn Soldiers Club on Monday, December 18 from 6-8pm.

In the meantime, Antia Braddeman is calling on the community to continue making their contribution.

“Certainly if I am fishing I would not put a carp back, if people do catch carp we just ask that they humanely dispose of them,” Anita says.

“We are certainly finding out some interesting stuff about carp through community reports and observations, which helps with the control programs to come.”

Download the Feral Fish Scan App HERE to add your sightings to the database.

*About Regional stories happen because people become members – thank you to Snowy Monaro Regional Council, Robert Hartemink, Maureen Searson, Bruce Morrison and Kerry Newlin, Julie Klugman
Jeanie and David Leser, Maria Linkenbagh, Jenny and Arthur Robb, Nigel Catchlove, and Cathy Griff.

 

Meet 2EC’s new radio presenter – a painter from Bega, John Watkin

John Watkin learning the ropes with Kim Saker in 2EC's Bega studio. Photo: Ian Campbell.
John Watkin learning the ropes with Kim Saker in 2EC’s Bega studio. Photo: Ian Campbell.

One of the best blokes in Bega has just landed his dream job, four decades after he first had a crack.

John Watkin has been in the paint business for close to 40 years, but as a teen, he applied for radio school with the ambition of working on the wireless.

“Radio was my childhood dream and I got rejected,” John remembers.

“This was back in the day when youth unemployment was 30%, jobs were really hard to come by, you had to get a job wherever you could, which is how I ended up in the family business.”

John grabbed the opportunity with both hands, working with his father to build a business that is now one of the pillars of town – Inspirations Paint.

But from Monday, John’s radio dream becomes a reality as the new Morning presenter for East Coast Radio 2EC.

Program Director and 2EC Breakfast presenter, Kim Saker says giving John the job feels right despite his lack of professional radio experience.

“He and I had talked about the idea over a couple of scotches in years gone by,” Kim laughs.

Keen to bring stability to her station when yet another vacancy opened Kim pitched the 50 something painter to the powers that be.

“He doesn’t have the radio skills as such, but he’s got the personality, he’s got the stability, he’s got the maturity, and he’s got the passion – everything else you can teach,” Kim says.

John’s appointment comes at a time when regional media is under pressure and in many country radio stations local content has been replaced by networked programs from the nearest capital city.

Kim says it was localism that sealed the deal.

“The directors of Grant Broadcasters, who own 2EC have the technology to do hubbing, but they believe in keeping it local wherever they can,” she says.

During his years running the paint business and raising three kids with his wife of 30 years Sharon, John has fed his radio dream with a regular painting and decorating segment in Kim’s breakfast program.

“And for the last 10 years when we have our radiothon weekend, John comes into the studio and he and I pretty much spend the whole weekend on air together,” Kim says.

Learning how to drive the radio studio has been the focus for John over the last few weeks of training, getting to know the equipment, being able to respond to a live radio program, and above all getting comfortable in what many people see as an intimidating environment.

Listeners to Kim’s breakfast program might not have realised that on some mornings recently, John has been “paneling” – pressing all the buttons while Kim kept her gums flapping – as only she can!

From Monday (December 4) he’ll need to do it all himself (as country radio presenters do) during his own program.

This boy from Bega who grew up listening to 2EC or 2BE as it used to be known, says it’s been a nerve-racking experience.

“I’ve been self-employed for the last 27 years, this is out of my comfort zone,” John says.

2EC Breakfast presenter and Program Director Kim Saker with new Mornings presenter John Watkin. Photo: Ian Campbell
2EC Breakfast presenter and Program Director Kim Saker with new Mornings presenter John Watkin. Photo: Ian Campbell

Locals will be familiar with John’s community work through the Bega Chamber of Commerce, Legacy, Anzac and Remembrance Day, Bega Hospital, and more, it’s something he is keen to bring to his new role.

“For me, radio is part of the local community, it’s a connection point, it’s a conduit for the community to share what’s going on,” John says.

“When it comes to fires and floods that’s where radio really steps up, you can get instant news to people.”

John will be on air between 9 and 12 weekdays, treading lightly at first while he gets his bearings, but his plan is to include interviews and discussion in amongst the music that 2EC is known for.

“My day is about connecting with this community, I’ll be talking about what’s happening and how that impacts on our local area,” John says.

The career change is a significant shift in the operations of the paint business John and Sharon continue to run.

“My wife is still not talking to me,” John laughs.

“Sharon is very supportive, she knows I’ve had a passion for radio since before I had a passion for her.

“And the kids think it’s fantastic, they keep hassling me. My daughter has just moved to London and she can’t wait to live-stream me.”

As a 30 year veteran of the industry, Kim Saker says it’s a really nice feeling to make someones radio dream come true.

“My passion for radio started when I was 11, I couldn’t imagine waiting as long as John has,” she says.

“For John to be living the dream now is awesome for me.”

Radio needs real people, country towns need radio, and John Watkin is a welcome addition to the ranks.

*About Regional content is backed by members, including – Kylie Dummer, Kaye Johnston, Geoffrey Grigg,
Robyn Kesby, Amanda Fowler, Sue and Duncan Mackinnon, Geoff Berry, Tania Ward, the Bega Valley Regional Learning Centre, and Four Winds at Bermagui.

“Pack the Pool” floats 50 metre option for Batemans Bay

The option adopted by Eurobodalla Shire Council at their August 29 meeting. Photo
The option adopted by Eurobodalla Shire Council for the Mackay Park, Bay Pool, Old Bowlo site. Photo: ESC

Batemans Bay locals have laid claim to the town’s 50-metre swimming pool.

The future of the aging facility on the Princes Highway south of the Batemans Bay bridge has been a sore point since late August when Eurobodalla Shire Council adopted a draft concept plan for a new 25-metre, year-round, enclosed aquatic centre.

Aside from a 25-metre, eight-lane pool with ramp access, the full vision for the proposed aquatic centre includes a separate 10m warm-water therapy pool and spa, a freeform indoor leisure pool, that includes learn-to-swim and toddler areas, water-play splash pad, waterslides, gym, group fitness and wellness area.

The pool plan is coupled with a new 500 seat performance and cultural space taking in the current pool site, part of bigger plans that take in the old Batemans Bay Bowling Club site and Mackay Park next door.

Both facilities would boast shared amenities, including a foyer, café, visitor information service and associated retail space, administration offices, as well as plant and support services.

Council is looking to take advantage of a ‘pot of gold’ on offer from the NSW and Australian Governments to turn the $46 million vision into a reality.

Around 120 people turned out over the weekend for the “Pack the Pool’ event, disappointed the draft concept plan adopted by Council doesn’t include a new or refurbished 50-metre pool.

https://www.facebook.com/fightforthe50/videos/168035247122884/

 

One of the organisers, Maureen Searson believes the decision is backward.

“We’ve already got the 50-metres which is catering to an existing group of swimmers,” Ms Searson says.

“It comes down to this idea of community, and bringing the community together, it makes no sense that Council would not build something for the whole community.”

According to the business case developed by planning consultants Otium, a 50-metre pool will cost approximately $6 million more to build and up to $300,000 a year more to operate – in comparison to a 25-metre facility.

Otium pointed to a “limited local market for a 50-metre pool” and suggested stronger demand for a recreation and program/therapy pool space, given the shire’s older and aging population and appeal to the family tourist market.

Ms Searson disagrees suggesting that an indoor 50-metre facility will be a drawcard for visiting representative squads and rebuild a competitive swimming club in the town.

“Families are traveling to Ulladulla for training at the moment because Council has allowed the Bay pool to deteriorate,” Ms Searson suggests.

At the Council meeting of August 29, Mayor Liz Innes rounded out a discussion on the length of the pool by saying, “Ultimately, we will only build what we can afford to maintain.”

To date, Council has ruled out a rate increase to cover the project.

The idea of an indoor, year-round, heated pool has been the long-held dream of the Batemans Bay Indoor Aquatic Centre Committee. Carolyn Harding is one of those who have been selling raffle tickets for the last 20 years raising funds, “The committee would like to see a 50-metre pool included in the new facility, however, if it is not affordable we will accept a 25-metre pool as long as the rest of the plan is retained,” she says.

“Rather than miss out [on the government funding] and be disadvantaged by that, we are happy to see the 25-metre pool funded along with everything else,” Ms Harding says.

As President of the Aquatic Centre Committee, Ms Harding attended “Pack the Pool” on Saturday.

“I think there are a lot of people who are not fully informed as to what the indoor aquatic centre is all about,” she says.

A closer look at the concept plan for a new aquatic centre at Batemans Bay. Photo: ESC
A closer look at the concept plan for a new aquatic centre at Batemans Bay. Photo: ESC

Earlier this month, Cr Innes called for unity around the idea.

“Arguing over detail and process at this point is only detracting from our goal, which is to achieve government funding to build the facility.”

“First we need to show the NSW and Australian Governments that we have a concept that is excellent and affordable. And we do,” she said.

“Let’s get the facility funded, then we can really start to drill down into the details.”

Simply getting a draft proposal in front of the NSW Government for consideration in this round of the Regional Cultural Fund and the Regional Sports and Infrastructure Fund seems to have been a driver, with speculation that the fund is already oversubscribed and might not advance to a second round.

Council’s across NSW are pitching the dreams of their various communities to Macquarie Street for funding, and everyone wanted to make sure they were there in the first round.

One of the NSW Government’s key selection criteria in considering applications is affordability and viability, a 25-metre pool seems to tick that box in the Eurobodalla’s case.

When asked about the possibility of a 50-metre pool, the State Member for Bega, Andrew Constance told Fairfax there would be no issues with altering the design if affordable.

“Ultimately, running costs will have to be evaluated against other interests in the shire,” he said.

Council says a 50-metre pool was presented as an option, however, “Given the additional construction and operational cost of a 50-metre pool, it is likely that the warm-water program pool or the learn-to-swim area would need to be sacrificed if a 50-metre pool was included,” Council’s website says.

“To include a 50-metre pool would have also weakened our business case, undermining the strength of our grant application and the likelihood of securing the NSW Government grant funds,” Council says.

Around 120 people turned out for Pack the Pool on Saturday. Photo: Facebook
Around 120 people turned out for Pack the Pool on Saturday. Photo: Facebook

Maureen Searson’s group, “Fight for Batemans Bay’s 50m Pool” doesn’t accept that a 50-metre pool is still an option given that Council has already adopted the 25-metre option.

The group is hoping to address Council tomorrow (November 28) suggesting that the figures Council is using to argue for a 25-metre pool are wrong.

“One of our supporters, Jeff de Jager has raised questions about the audited financial statements that suggest the total maintenance costs for all three of council’s swimming pools was $229,000 for the year,” Ms Searson says.

“The report also says the gross replacement cost for three pools is $5,134,000.

“We are keen for Council to explain how it is then that a new 50-metre pool would cost an extra $6 million in building costs compared to a 25-metre pool and an extra $300,000 for maintenance annually,” Ms Searson says. *See response that followed from Council below.

News about the dollars flowing from the Cultural Fund could come this week at the Artstate conference in Lismore, shortlisted applicants will be asked to provide further project details in early 2018.

Council’s application for additional funding from the Federal Government’s “Building Better Regions Fund” is being finalised now for submission before December 9.

*About Regional content is funded by members, thank you to 2pi Software, Tathra Beach House Apartments, Kelly Murray, Gabrielle Powell, Tim Holt, Robyn Amair, Wendy and Pete Gorton, Shan Watts, and Doug Reckord.

Bega man told to walk home from hospital at 2am after arriving with chest pains

South East Regional Hospital
South East Regional Hospital. Photo: SNSWLHD

Much has been said and written about the South East Regional Hospital in 2017 – most of it negative.

And as someone that purports to tell the stories of South East NSW, I haven’t always been sure of how to respond to the growing community concerns around services.

Politics, self-interest, and my own shortcomings have at times muddied the waters for me, and been a handbrake on About Regional coverage. And I didn’t want to add to the avalanche of “hospital bashing” stories.

Paul’s story has changed that, it’s a no bullshit experience that goes to the heart of what a hospital is supposed to provide – care and compassion.

Paul is not his real name. In telling his story Paul doesn’t want to embarrass friends and clients that work at the new facility and has asked to remain anonymous. But he does want change and does want better for the community he has made his home.

Step 1 for Paul. Photo: Ian Campbell
Step 1 for Paul. Photo: Ian Campbell

Paul is a long time Bega Valley resident, “It’ll be 20 years in February,” he says.

A Victorian by birth, Paul says he followed his dad to Merimbula for a holiday and stayed.

He’s in a longterm relationship, in his fifties and runs his own business.

In early September on a Sunday evening, Paul and his partner called an ambulance to their Bega home.

Paul was having chest pains, “I’d had a few incidents that day, but after dinner, it got worse and worse,” he says.

Sitting in his kitchen with spag bol bubbling in the background, Paul recounts the experience telling me he couldn’t breathe and that the pain got “pretty bad”.

Step 2. Photo: Ian Campbell
Step 2. Photo: Ian Campbell

“They kept me in hospital for five hours, did blood tests and told me that I didn’t have a heart attack, [they told me] we think you’ve got angina,” Paul says.

The clock had moved around to 1:30 am by this stage and with a diagnosis in hand, Paul was advised to see his  GP during the week.

“They [then] gave me a blanket and said I’d have to walk home,” Paul explains.

Step 3, "If they are going to make people walk home, they should have a footpath all the way." Photo: Ian Campbell
Step 3, “If they are going to make people walk home, they should have a footpath all the way.” Photo: Ian Campbell

Paul arrived at the hospital with his partner five hours earlier via ambulance, they had no car, no way of getting home.

“We have lots of friends, but it was two o’clock in the morning, we didn’t want to impose on people,” he says.

“They [hospital satff] didn’t give me any other option but to walk home.”

No bed was offered, no ride home, just a blanket to guard against the early spring chill.

“I did say – I can’t walk home with angina,” Paul says.

None the less Paul and his partner were tossed out to walk the four and bit kilometres home to the Bega CBD.

“It was a bit scary because I got the pain back when we got down to Glebe Lagoon,” he says.

Paul laughs when he says,”If they are going to make people walk home than they should make sure there’s a footpath all the way.”

Step 4 - chest pains at Glebe Lagoon. Photo: Ian Campbell.
Step 4 – chest pains at Glebe Lagoon. Photo: Ian Campbell.

Thankfully Paul made it home and was able to see his doctor on the Wednesday.

“It was a chest infection, it’s all good now and I don’t have angina,” he says.

Before publishing Paul’s story I sought comment from the Southern NSW Local Health District.

This is a mistake I thought, people don’t get kicked out of hospital with a blanket at 2am and told to walk home after presenting with chest pains.

In seeking a response I had hoped the Health Service would say, “We are sorry this happened, it won’t happen again.”

After all, around the time of Paul’s experience, the Southern Health CEO and Board Chair were sacked by NSW Health Minister, Brad Hazzard,

The recommendations of the Health Minister’s review had started to be implemented.

A new manager at South East Regional Hospital (SERH) had started work.

The Health Minister and the Shadow Health Minister had both visited SERH since Paul walked home that night.

Things have changed is what the community is told. No, they haven’t is the impression I am left with.

Step 5. Photo: Ian Campbell
Step 5. Photo: Ian Campbell

My request for comment about Paul’s experience was referred to the NSW Health Transport Travel Support Group.

“We are able to perform transport during operational hours if we have capacity but being 2 am, there would have been no capacity,” they said.

“The problem is not that the hospital doesn’t provide transport, but rather that there is only one taxi in Bega and they won’t provide service after hours.

“In cases of hardship we would pay for transport home if there was any available,” the Travel Support Group says.

In my mind, the response fails to understand or address the care that was missing from Paul’s experience that night and undermines assurances that the management and operations at South East Regional Hospital have improved.

Step 6 - almost home. Photo: Ian Campbell
Step 6 – almost home. Photo: Ian Campbell

Where is the care and compassion we assume will be a part of a visit to any hospital?

How is it that people who were drawn to a caring profession are able to give a sick man a blanket for the walk home but not a bed for the night or a ride home?

Where is the understanding of the regional setting in which this facility operates?

Am I right in thinking the NSW Health Service just dumped on the Bega taxi service?

The Health Minister’s review of hospital operations pointed to the need for a cultural change within SERH – on this count the reform so far has failed.

The new Cheif Executive of Southern NSW Local Health District started work this week. Andrew Newton comes from a nursing background and on ABC radio this week spoke of his understanding and appreciation of small hospitals.

He spoke clearly, compassionately, and with knowledge, and recognised the need to retain and attract good staff. The community is hopefully his words translate into better health experiences.

Paul has made an official complaint about his piss-poor treatment, he is yet to receive a response or assurances it won’t happen to someone else.

In the meantime he hangs on to the blanket staff gave him on that cold, fearful night as proof of his hard to believe experience.

 

Earlier coverage from About Regional on this issue:

“Community rallies to fix hospital heartbreak.”

“Review of South East Regional Hospital on track.”

 

Take a drone flight over Dignams Creek roadworks

Looking north over existing highway, July 2017. Photo: RMS
Looking north over the existing highway. Photo: RMS

The roadworks at Dignams Creek, south of Narooma are a real talking point for motorists negotiating the Princes Highway at the moment – the scale of the project is epic.

Twenty-five large pieces of machinery are currently onsite supporting the work of 80 people, who during August, September, October shifted 100,000 cubic meters of earth.

At one point in your journey north or south, you end up in the middle of the worksite under the control of high-viz lollypop people who are dwarfed by the massive wheels and earthmoving blades cutting a wider, safer, straighter roadway through what was once a lush floodplain and a forest of eucalypt and tree ferns.

“This section of road was identified by the State Coronial Inquest 10 years ago as having a very real need to be upgraded,” Member for Bega, Andrew Constance says.

“In that 10 years there have been 26 accidents on this section of highway and unfortunately one life has been lost.”

Looking north over what will be the new bridge over Dignams Creek. Photo: RMS
Looking north over what will be the new bridge over Dignams Creek. Photo: RMS

The end result of this $45 million upgrade will be a widening of the current highway for about 800 metres leading into two-kilometres of new roadway built to current highway standards. There will also be new bridges erected over Dignams Creek and Dignams Creek Road.

“The narrow approach to the bridge and the twists and turns of the road where built to standards that are 70 years old,” Mr Constnace says.

“Modern-day traffic travels quicker and there are more heavy vehicles on the road – it’s important we get on and fix roads like this.

“To see the project progressing now is very pleasing,” he says.

The purple tracks the route of the new highway, to the west of the current bridge and roadway. Photo: RMS
The purple tracks the route of the new highway, to the west of the current bridge and roadway. Photo: RMS

The signs you whizz past on either side of the road point to competition in mid-2019.

In the run-up to Christmas 2017, extra hours have been added to the work schedule, a move welcomed by residents keen to see the finish flag fall.

Crews are now working 6 days a week including Saturdays from 8am till 6pm.

John Cursley and his partner Maggie live 200 metres from the new section of highway, “It’s dusty and the noise at times is quite disrupting, but in defense of them [York Civil Road Engineers] they have tried to address the problem,” Mr Cursley says.

“They changed the beeper on the reversing trucks to a squawker.

“These trucks don’t seem to ever go forward,” Mr Cursley laughs.

Paul Munro and his partner Sally are 100 meters away and pump drinking water from the creek, “Our pipes and basins have been turning blue,” Mr Munro says.

“I think it points to a change in the pH and acidity of our water.

“We’ve been here over 30 years and its the first time we’ve seen these signs,” Mr Munro says.

Rising water levels downstream in the salty Wallaga Lake might also be influencing the water table and makeup of the Munro’s creek water.

Mr Munro doesn’t believe the water is toxic or harmful and has consulted the project’s environmental officer.

“Somethings changed, but there is a lot happening in the catchment – dust, earthworks, new drainage, so its hard to know where the change has come from, we’ll be keeping an eye on water quality,” Mr Munro says.

Both men also have concerns about flooding while works take place, worried what will happen if an East Coast Low forms and drops a lot of rain while the ground is open and exposed.

“The quicker they get the job done the better,” Mr Cursley says.

“It is what it is, we just have to see it out,” Mr Munro says.

Andrew Constance says he is particularly grateful for the input and understanding of local residents.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to put community safety first, and I am confident the end result will address all concerns,” Mr Constance says.

“Look this work needed doing, the bridge is too narrow and the corner too steep,” Mr Cursley says.

Looking south over the new section of highway at the northern end. Photo: RMS
Looking south over the new section of highway at the northern end. Photo: RMS

Motorists will be moved to a new 800-metre temporary road at the northern end of the project from Monday November 27 until mid-2018, and work will be put on hold between December 16 and January 8 in order to keep holiday traffic moving.

“And motorists need to remember there are 80 people working on this site, and they need to go home to their families each night,” Mr Constance says.

“So please drive with patience, observe the reduced speed limits and traffic controls.”

*About Regional content is supported by the contribution of members, thank you to – Julie Rutherford Real Estate Bermagui, Fiona Cullen, Nancy Blindell, Jo Riley-Fitzer, Jenny Anderson, Ali Oakley, Julia Stiles, and Patrick Reubinson.

The Monaro’s Bronnie Taylor speaks to the NSW Assisted Dying Bill

NSW Nationals MLC, Bronnie Taylor on the family farm near Nimmitabel. Photo credit: https://twitter.com/bronnietaylor
NSW Nationals MLC, Bronnie Taylor on the family farm near Nimmitabel. Photo credit: https://twitter.com/bronnietaylor

It’s been an emotional day in one half of the New South Wales Parliament, with Members of the Legislative Council, AKA the upper house, speaking to the “Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017.”

Introduced by Nationals MP Trevor Khan, the legislation would allow terminally ill patients to take action that would cause their death with the assistance of doctors.

Following a similar Bill currently before the Victorian Parliament, under the proposed NSW law, only patients over the age of 25 and those expected to die within 12 months would be able to legally take their life.

The proposal is that patients must be assessed by a psychologist or psychiatrist and have their decision signed off on by two medical practitioners, including a specialist.

It’s action that can be challenged by close family of the patient in the Supreme Court.

Party leaders have given all MPs a conscience vote on the issue, but for it to progress to the lower house – the domain of local’s like Andrew Constance and John Barilaro, the Bill first needs to pass the upper house.

The Monaro’s Bronnie Taylor sits in the upper house and spoke to the Bill from her perspective as a nurse.

“The fact is that all the money in the world thrown at palliative care will not be able to help everyone and anyone who says otherwise is simply not speaking the truth,” Mrs Taylor told parliament.

Speaking to About Regaional later in the day, Mrs Taylor said, “I am very disappointed that this legislation was defeated by one vote tonight. I found it a difficult day.

“I respect everyone has their own opinions but I am absolutely convinced that this is a good Bill and should have passed.

“My heart goes out to all those that so desperately wanted to die with dignity which they so deserve,” Mrs Taylor said.

Read and watch Bronnie Taylor’s full speech to parliament below…

I understand that the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017 is an emotive issue for everyone so I take this opportunity to thank everyone in the Chamber for the respect shown during this process.

We all come from different places, we all have different beliefs but we are all here to do the best we can.

I genuinely believe we all try to do our best, albeit in very different ways. I have thought long and hard about what I wanted to say today.

I have consulted widely with many people. I have strong connections with people in the health industry in many different professions.

I am conscious that many members wish to speak today so I will attempt to keep my contribution brief and to the point.

I still think of myself—and I always will—as a nurse. I love and value the profession; it was so very good to me.

I speak as someone who has walked the walk and talked the talk. I spent more than 20 years as a nurse before I entered this place just over 2½ years ago, all of that time specialising in cancer care, oncology, with eight years as a clinical nurse specialist in palliative care.

We all have our own stories of death and dying.

On this day, World Pancreatic Cancer Day, I remember my dad, Ward Washington, who died from a horrible insidious disease.

Dad lived in Sydney next to one of the best hospitals in the world but it did not equate to him getting the best palliative care—something for which I can vouch.

My father was a devout Catholic and I do not think he would have chosen the option of this legislation if it were available to him.

But it leads me to a point that has been talked about in the media—that the answer to all of this must be better palliative care and that access to good palliative care depends on one’s postcode.

That simply and most definitely is not true.

My husband, Duncan—a man of much wisdom and common sense; a farmer, lawyer and economist—lost his mum to metastatic breast cancer when he was 20. I remember it well.

I was doing my first practical at the time, doing a community nursing placement. I knew then that I had found my passion.

Duncan’s family cared for his mum at home. They live half an hour out of Cooma, which is the main town, and have a long dirt driveway so one could say that they are isolated.

They felt so grateful to be able to have her at home to die. They had excellent palliative care in Nimmitabel, postcode 2631, population around 300.

Mrs Walters was their generalist community nurse; she still works at Cooma Community Health. This brilliant nurse, with a wealth of experience, worked closely with Duncan’s mum’s general practitioner [GP], Dr Vic Carroll.

Duncan’s mum died surrounded by her husband, Peter, who carefully and lovingly cared for her, her sons and her treasured friends.

That was great palliative care, delivered by a community nurse and a GP—no fancy hospice, no specialist—just a great team in a rural community. 

Importantly, it was a community that cared for her and the family because that is what we do in the country; we care for each other in times of challenge and sadness.

When specialist doctors in the cities say that people in the country do not have access to good palliative care, they should come down south and have a look.

I know that is lacking in some centres but all of the specialists in the world will not solve that. What is needed is good basic nursing care, professionals who are willing and able to spend time with people and their families.

I have worked with people who are dying and their families for most of my professional life. I, too, have personal stories but I speak today from my professional experience.

 I spoke earlier about being a clinical nurse specialist based in Cooma and I covered the entire Monaro area.

The fact is that all the money in the world thrown at palliative care will not be able to help everyone and anyone who says otherwise is simply not speaking the truth.

I know we need more resources and I will fight for that every day in this place while I am privileged to be a member. I can also relate many stories of the patients I have cared for but that is not my job today.

However, specialists who state in the media that anyone who wants to end their life at a time of their choosing after being diagnosed to be in the terminal phase of their illness is depressed and after receiving specialist palliative care will change their minds is a falsehood and something I find offensive.

The whole notion that excellent palliative care can cure everyone’s suffering is not true. Anyone who has worked with people who are dying knows emphatically that that is not true.

Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2017

I have been asked for access to my recent speech to the Legislative Council on the Assisted Dying Legislation.I have been deeply humbled by the phone calls to my office and emails on my words to the Chamber.Here is the speech for anyone that is interested.Bronnie

Posted by Bronnie Taylor MLC on Wednesday, 22 November 2017

 

Let us all be honest and truthful in this debate.

People’s opinions are their own and they should not be imposed on others as if they were fact when they are not.

It is an interesting fact that when people are diagnosed with a disease—and I use cancer as an example as I know a little about this—they are always given the option of treatment to prolong their life, treatment to make them live longer, regardless of whether that treatment has a less than 5 percent chance of working.

People are offered that option and it is their choice. We give people the right to choose if they want to extend their life so I ask: Why do we not give people the option to end their lives, at a time of their choosing, surrounded by the people they love and above all—the ultimate—with the dignity that they so deserve?

We have spoken a lot about vulnerability and I have seen it time and again. Vulnerability comes when we feel we are losing control. It is a horrible feeling.

I used to say to my patients when I sensed their vulnerability, “This cancer will not define you or control you. You need to define it.”

We worry that this will hurt our most vulnerable. I completely disagree; this legislation will empower them and give them control.

I would like to quote Dr Charlie Teo of whom I am very fond. Dr Teo said:

“I am proud of my reputation of never giving up on patients who still have the will to live despite what others believe to be an exercise in futility.

“I am equally as proud to support Dying with Dignity because the only situation that would be worse than not having control of your life is to not have control over your own death.”

They are powerful words from an outstanding individual who does so much for so many at the most vulnerable time of their lives.

I quote from my husband whom I have been quoting a lot, as I do about most things. He sent me this text the other day which states:

“There is happiness and peace in knowing you will retain control over your own destiny, even if in all likelihood you don’t use it.

“Knowing you will slowly lose control will surely increase suffering and misery. And giving your control over your destiny to the government … well that is very dissatisfying.”

The fundamental reason for my vote today is based on the ultimate principle that I do not believe that government and politicians should tell people how to run their lives.

My belief is that we need to get out of the way. Our responsibility is to provide a safe framework.

I quote from the excellent position paper of the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association, even though the association and I do not always see eye to eye. However, I commend the association for this document.

It states:

“Our members provide high quality palliative care that for the majority is able to alleviate physical pain and provide adequate comfort.

“Unfortunately, palliative care is not effective for all patients and some experience unbearable pain and suffering for prolonged periods of time.

“We believe that legislation reform in this area will actually provide protection to people who are vulnerable.”

The draft bill, which is rigorous in its requirements, requires that a person who wishes to seek assistance should express such a wish to three separate health practitioners over a minimum period of nine days before assistance can be provided.

It also requires that a person be deemed of sound mind before assistance can be provided.

I believe the legislation is rigorous and commend the working party for its bravery and courage. It has done a good job.

Under this bill, people will need approval from three doctors. I trust doctors; I trust that they will make the right decision and not allow people to access the provisions in this legislation if they do not qualify.

Clause 29 of the bill specifically states that this is not about letting people commit suicide.

It is not about telling people with mental health issues that they are unworthy. This legislation would not give them access so it is wrong to draw that conclusion.

People in this Chamber might not wish to use this legislation which is fine; it is their choice. But they should not impose their views on others.

It is their right to choose, which is the way it should always be in a free and democratic country such as Australia.

I support this bill.

Bronnie Taylor is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Premier and Southern NSW and is a Nationals MLC.

*Text taken from NSW Parliament Hansard.