Tuesday, 28 December 2010

They closed another hospital

on Christmas Eve in South Australia. It was the hospital up the hill from us. It was supposedly a "private" hospital. All that really meant was that it was not run by the state government.
It was one of those useful places where local people could go to have their babies at one end of life and where they could die at the other. In between they would do their best to help you put yourself together again.
I have been to see people there over the years. It was off the main road. It was surrounded by quiet gardens. It was not too big but big enough to have many of the facilities needed by all but the most critically ill.
But, it was losing money - as hospitals are inclined to do. It was not getting taxpayer support because of the "private" listing. The government actually wanted to see it closed. The impact on the local community will be far greater than the government admits. That does not matter. It will boost the case for building a monument to the present government on the banks of the River Torrens.
They are closing another rural hospital too. The impact on that local community and the surrounding area will be even greater. The people in that community will not have to travel thirty or forty minutes by car to see a doctor but three or four hours - or even more. Seeing a doctor will become a major undertaking.
It is all about saving money of course. The money is needed for things like the oval upgrade so that the cricket ground can be used for football matches. (I have been told I really do not understand how important that is.)
The government closed the centre for people who needed permanent or long term nursing facilities some years ago. The people who lived there were sent home or to houses "in the community" with supposedly "in community care". The reality is that those who have survived are now more isolated than before and we have more young people living in aged care facilities than ever before. Now we will have the elderly people housed in the rural hospital more hours away from family and friends. We will have the residents in the hills behind us having to make emergency journeys on minor twisting roads to another hospital some distance away.
There is no public transport between the two.
If the government really cared they would keep the rural hospital open. Yes it costs but the surrounding area grows food for people in the city to consume. That alone is reason enough to keep it open so that people will remain there and pursue the essential task.
They would keep the semi-urban hospital open too. They could transfer some of the young people out of aged care facilities into the hospital. It would be no more expensive to care for them there. They could offer them pleasant surroundings and some company their own age. That however would be admitting that something akin to "an institution" is necessary for some people. It would be politically incorrect to acknowledge this and so the young people will remain hidden. They will die before their time having experienced almost nothing of life.
The cricketers are happy enough with the way things are at the oval - although not perhaps the results of matches. We do not need the oval upgrade. It might be nice to have a new hospital on the river bank in the middle of the city but one of the most outspoken supporters of it has privately admitted that we could manage without it.
Can we manage without caring about the consequences of the closures? I am certain of one thing. It will make us a lesser community.


Unknown said...

How awful. There is a constant complaint here in South Africa about how bad the state hospitals are, but at least the people have somewhere to go! A while back, the government hospitals were striking (they're not actually allowed to of course, essential services and all) It caused a lot of chaos. People need medical care. The private hospitals actually stepped up and allowed non private patients in during this time.

Our private medical care is exceptionally costly, private hospitals here don't have money problems.

catdownunder said...

Our system is different of course - some of our "district" hospitals are "private" in the sense that they are not run by the government. They may get government subsidies because they cater for everyone. That said the government does not look at tbis when they decide they need to "save" some money!