FOR OUR BABIES: Pediatrician David McMaster showing one of three $40,000 incubators purchased for the hospital by charity.
FOR OUR BABIES: Pediatrician David McMaster showing one of three $40,000 incubators purchased for the hospital by charity. Scott Powick

Baby ward in double capacity cries out for help

A DIMLY-LIT ward, where the beep of heart monitors is only broken by the whisper of anxious parents, is home to the Tweed Hospital's sickest babies.

You wouldn't expect the special care nursery to be left out of the $48 million Stage One redevelopment of the hospital, but that's exactly the predicament in which head pediatrician Dr David McMaster finds himself.

Dr McMaster said the baby ward was at critical capacity, admitting up to 12 babies at a time, even though it's only meant to have six.

Since 2009, the ward has relied on charity for its equipment, so there are only three incubators.

"When mothers want to stay in with their baby, if there's not enough beds, they'll be sent home. It's horrible," Dr McMaster said.

A crammed 2sqm utility room has been converted to become a breastfeeding area for all hospital staff, as well as a nurses' office.

"If we had a baby that died, that's where we'd have to sit with the parents," Dr McMaster said.

"We are the hospital that has not been time-proofed."

In the lead-up to the July 2 poll, Tweed Hospital doctors are calling on the Federal Government to step in and help fund the facility's redevelopment.

Since the NSW Government announced $48m for Stage One of the redevelopment, costs have blown out to more to more than $120 million.

With the entire project worth $211m in 2013, Dr McMaster said the staged process, through political pledges, had failed patients.

"We're part of a little game, and they're much better at it than us," he said.

"My wish would be for them to just come and say they would fund the whole hospital redevelopment."

On Thursday, Nationals candidate Matthew Fraser visited Tweed Hospital with Rural Health Minister Fiona Nash. He claimed costing on the entire project would take another two months.

"If elected, I will be a relentless advocate for the hospital and make representations to absolutely everyone to secure local funding," Mr Fraser said.

Labor MP Justine Elliot called on Nationals state MP Geoff Provest "to admit the Nationals lied to get elected when he promised $48 million to upgrade the Tweed Hospital".

 

Pediatrician, Dr David McMaster, pictured at Tweed Hospital.
Pediatrician, Dr David McMaster, pictured at Tweed Hospital. Scott Powick


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