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Needle scare creates stir

The sharps bin at the centre of the needle prick incident.
The sharps bin at the centre of the needle prick incident. Trevor Veale

GROWING concerns over the location of a sharps bin near a local preschool has seen another mother come forward with an alarming story to tell.

We reported yesterday how a toddler had pricked his finger on a needle thrown into a Toormina preschool playground.

Distressed mother Michelle Egan made a desperate plea for the used needle bin to be moved, a day after her son Max, 5, suffered the needle stick injury.

Mr Egan’s insistence the bin be moved prompted another mum to come forward.

“I have two sons who are diabetics and I used to dispose of their hypodermic needles in that sharps disposal bin at Toormina,” said the woman, who asked not be named.

“On three occasions I found the bin was full and overflowing with sharps. When I opened the bin there were needles still sitting in the hopper, which hadn’t gone down the chute because the bin was full.

“I’ve even seen it where needles and syringes have been left next to the bin. When this happens people can easily access discarded sharps.”

The local mother said on each occasion she contacted Coffs Harbour Council and contractors had come to empty the bin.

The Department of Community Services is investigating Monday’s incident and it’s understood another toddler may have also come in contact with the needle.

Young Max Egan suffered the scratch to his finger after finding the sharp in a mulched garden in the playground on Monday.

The five-year-old has seen a doctor and undergone blood tests, while the family faces a nervous wait hoping he is cleared of infection.

“I believe there is an obvious link between the used needle bin and the needle turning up in the playground of the preschool,” Mrs Egan said.

“I just want to see the sharps bin moved to a more appropriate place.

“I don’t want this to happen again to someone else’s child.”

NSW Community Services Minister Linda Burney is now also involved in this issue.

The Toormina sharps disposal bin has been situated in the carpark of Centro Toormina for more than a year, following the shopping centre redevelopment.

While it offers a safe disposal point to the public for syringes, needles and cannulas it is also located close to a preschool, local library and scout hall.

In the past the suburb’s sharps disposal bin was located on Toormina Road.

The Coffs Harbour City Council, which works with NSW Health to provide sharp disposal bins, says it is also looking into Mrs Egan’s concerns.

NSW Community Services Minister Linda Burney, who was made aware of the incident yesterday, said she was deeply concerned.

“This is understandably a very distressing incident and I feel for all parents concerned,” Ms Burney said.

“I’ve been advised that Community Services is working with the preschool to investigate the matter.”

All parents with children at the preschool have been informed of the incident, and the preschool’s management board has also been briefed.



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