Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Closing off

What do you do when a hospital is closed down? The local Blackwood Hospital was shut, virtually overnight, by an Administrator just before Christmas.
It is a small facility with just 40-50 beds. When I first lived in the area some 35 years ago people still had babies there. That had stopped long before we moved back in the mid 90s.
The trouble is always going to be one of economies of scale. Can such facilities be kept going in these days when governments are counting every dollar.
At the very least it seems to me that there are rural hospitals (genuinely rural as opposed to outer or mid suburban which is what Blackwood really is) which have a more critical role and which have recently been closed.
Governments of course are not in the business of propping up ailing businesses.
So it was interesting to note when I went out last night that an information meeting at the church way down the road had obviously attracted far more people than were at worship on Sunday, cars were banked up as far as out place. Not surprising. This is a heated issue. There is, tonight, a protest meeting and that I imagine will attract a similar if not greater number.
Part of the proposition about the closure at Blackwood is that there are two larger hospital facilities one public and one private just down the hill at Flinders.
There are quite serious access problems with both of those hospitals. Parking is atrocious and often gridlocked in front of the private hospital which is supposed to do quite a lot of medical consulting. You simply can't get into the tiny car park at peak hours. And traffic banks up along the road causing all sorts of havoc.
Now the modest amount of consulting which has been done at Blackwood will allegedly be transferred there (at least in part).
As someone who has to visit people in hospital I am also aware that one of the key functions Blackwood has performed is to provide care as people are discharged from the bigger hospitals but are not yet ready to go home. This is a significant issue, and it has been possible for many people to be accommodated at Blackwood rather than miles away from family and friends.
But, I couldn't help but note during a radio interview yesterday that in the end the reality is that the local community likes the idea of the hospital being there but doesn't actually support it. I have often been surprised by how few patients are in the hospital. Hospitals are expensive to keep open. And even more expensive if you have too few patients.
There is a certain sense of irony in all this in this day and age. As we look for better and better service, we actually seem to spend more time rationalising the closer more intimate service. This is not just hospitals I am talking about. It is perhaps the dilemma of the 21st century.

1 comment:

An arrogator said...

Indeed perhaps it is the dilemma of our age - an age when people are prepared to leave things up to appointed authority and hope that 'they' will do the right thing. It seems that the best we can do is to blog.