Maclean rehab unit still empty two years after construction

A $3.7 MILLION rehabilitation ward at Maclean District Hospital will finally start operating next year - more than two years after its construction.

The ward was built in 2012 in a bid to provide 10 new sub-acute rehabilitation and four new palliative care beds in Maclean.

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NSW regional health parliamentary secretary Melinda Pavey heralded the project as "a wonderful development for the Lower Clarence community" when the $3.7 million funding was announced in November, 2011.

However, sources within the hospital said the original enthusiasm had not translated into results.

A nurse unit manager was employed to run the unit on a salary of more than $95,000 but had taken paid leave "because there is no work for her to do", a hospital worker said.

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The ward was kept under lock and key for months on end, despite the hospital being notoriously short on beds.

It has recently reopened to house patients from another building undergoing upgrades.

TYPES OF CARE

Sub-acute:

Health care to improve a patient's functionality or quality of life

Consists of rehabilitation, palliative care, psycho-geriatric care and/or geriatric evaluation and management

Acute:

Short-term treatment for severe injury, illness, urgent medical condition or recovery from surgery

The opposite of "chronic care"

"The Maclean sub-acute ward is being used to accommodate patients, who would normally occupy one of the hospital's two acute wards, while an acute ward is being upgraded," Northern NSW Local Health District chief Chris Crawford said.

"The availability of the sub-acute ward provides a unique opportunity to upgrade an existing acute ward without disruption to patients.

"Once the upgrade of the acute ward is completed, then the sub-acute ward will open in the New Year."



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