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Leeton residents hope Facebook page will highlight hospital staff shortages


Leeton residents are taking to a Facebook page to share their experiences at the local hospital amid ongoing concerns about staff shortages at the facility.

The Save Leeton Hospital page has accumulated a number of stories from community members, some of whom wish to remain anonymous, expressing their frustration with the facility.

Maryann Ianelli is one of the administrators of the page and said the lack of a 24-hour doctor service was the main issue being raised.

“I know we have a lot of local doctors that try their hardest to be there when they can but it’s just getting worse and worse,” she said.

Concerns over a lack of doctors in Leeton prompted Ms Ianelli and her husband to drive 1.5 hours to the Wagga Wagga hospital maternity ward in the middle of the night while she was in labour.

She said she made it just in time to have her baby at the hospital.

“Nothing to do with the lack of confidence of our maternity staff … but just the thought of not having a doctor available if something was to go wrong with myself or my baby made my husband and me decide to take the chance [and drive to Wagga Wagga],” she said.

Current staff ‘need more support’

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Ms Ianelli said the current staff, who worked extremely hard, were not the problem.

Ms Ianelli stressed that there was no improvement in recent years and hoped the Facebook page will make enough noise to trigger change.

“It is quite daunting to share your personal stories, whether it be medical or anything else, but I think everyone understands the cause,” she said.

“The more people that speak, the more people will hopefully speak up creating that flow-on effect.

Community frustration

Amie Fazekas, who lives with epilepsy, is one of the people who shared her experience on the Facebook page.

Ms Fazekas said she suffered four seizures in a waiting room at the hospital while she waited to be seen by a doctor.

She said she was eventually put on to a remote doctor via a phone because none were available at the hospital.

The doctor on the phone told her to go home.

woman standing outside beside a hedge
Amie Fazekas says she suffered four seizures in a waiting room at the hospital.(

Supplied: Amie Fazekas

)

“The doctor on the phone told them to give me a bottle of water … give me my meds and if I could keep them down for another 20 minutes then to send me home. And that’s what they did,” Ms Fazekas said.

On another occasion, Ms Fazekas said she was forced to drive her husband out of town after he was bitten by a dog because staff at Leeton Hospital said no-one was available to clean the wound and stitch him up.

“They said, ‘We have nobody here that can do it, that can look at it, that is qualified to do stitches. You will need to take him to Griffith’,” Ms Fazekas said.

She said it was disappointing to see that this “amazing” facility and nursing staff had no doctors to support them.

“I just want it to be heard and I just want the staff to know that they’re doing an amazing job and this isn’t on them,” Ms Fazekas said.

Health service says staffing ‘a priority’

In a statement, the Murrumbidgee Local Health District welcomed the feedback and said workforce was a priority for Leeton Hospital. 

“Our specialist recruitment team are working on new and innovative ways to attract staff to our region in a highly competitive market,” a spokesperson said. 

“In the meantime, locum support is being provided to reduce the hospital workload for the local GP-Visiting Medical Officers (GP-VMOs) who currently admit and treat patients at Leeton Hospital, and participate in an on-call roster for the Emergency Department.”



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