AN ELDERLY man suffering from asbestosis had to call Triple-0 from his hospital bed in Lismore Base to get help from a nurse.
Eighty-seven-year old World War II veteran Kevin Park called the emergency number after night shift failed to hear the brass bell he was given as a replacement to the electronic call system at the hospital, which is still not operational.
Yesterday a still angry Mr Park said after ringing the bell for 45 minutes, ‘desperate times demanded desperate action’.
“This is like the Third World. We are being treated like dogs.”
Patients in Lismore Base’s surgical ward were issued with brass bells four weeks ago after both the emergency and nurse call systems failed.
North Coast Area Health last night offered the air force veteran from Iluka an apology ‘for any distress that may have been caused to Mr Park and his family’.
The spokesperson confirmed that the call system for patients to use should they suffer a fall in the toilet or showers was also not working.
“Lismore Base Hospital is currently waiting on quotes to repair the call system and the timeframe is estimated (at) four to six weeks,” the spokesperson said.
The hospital is also waiting for quotes to fix one of its two aging lifts in its main A block.
Lismore Base Hospital Medical Staff Council media liaison officer Dr Chris Ingall said the poor state of Lismore Base Hospital was symptomatic of the crisis gripping the health care system.
“They are running down Lismore Base Hospital in anticipation of a Federal Government takeover,” he said.
The hospital denied it was allowing the facility to fall into disrepair.
But Mr Park, who has been a patient there for almost three weeks, agrees with Dr Ingall.
“They are just letting this whole place to be run down,” he said.
Connected to an oxygen bottle to assist his breathing, the Iluka man has been restricted to his hospital bed for the last two-and-a-half weeks after he developed a severe case of cellulitis in his left leg, which prevents him from walking.
This week he woke just after midnight with a soaked hospital gown.
Unsure whether he was covered in blood or sweat, Mr Park rang the bell to call a nurse.
The nurse quickly gave him the all clear, but left before giving him dry clothing.
Mr Park said he rang his bell off and on for another 45 minutes in attempt to get something dry to sleep in but with only two nurses on duty to care for the large ward, no one responded.
Distressed, he called his wife who is staying at a veteran’s hostel at Ballina. She suggested he call Triple-0.
But as he was put through to the emergency operator, a nurse arrived and took his phone.
She returned it 45 minutes later without the battery and sim card.
“I don’t care what anyone says, that’s theft,” Mr Park said yesterday. “It was my only communication with the outside world and they took it away from me.”
In the meantime, his anxious wife was trying to call him on the mobile. Fearing the worst she eventually got through to the nurses’ station and was told her husband was alright.
The phone’s battery and sim card were returned to Mr Park the next morning.
The hospital spokesperson said Mr Park’s phone was taken from him to prevent him disturbing other patients.