Medical staff fear for the future of Long Jetty Healthcare Centre Unit

The ongoing operation of Long Jetty In-Patient Unit, which was closed last September on a temporary basis and reutilised for COVID vaccinations, looks highly uncertain according to long-serving staff.

In September 2021, staff at the facility received notification from Central Coast Local Health District advising them that the Unit, which comprises the subacute and transitional care services, at Long Jetty was closing for a minimum of six months to “provide additional space to support emerging COVID needs across (the) Health District.”

Staff were redeployed to other medical centres and hospitals across the Central Coast, and patients were transported and cared for at Wyong Hospital and Woy Woy Community Health Centre, which provided a similar service to Long Jetty.

According to staff, the closure of the Unit was abrupt, and closed by the end of October 2021.

Staff said that Unit, which housed 22 beds, sat empty until January this year when it re-opened for a few days per week as a COVID vaccine centre.

In a letter to staff dated 10 March 2022, the Local Health District outlined its first steps for the Unit.

It said, “To assist in our planning, we are undertaking a review of the impact of the changes at Long Jetty Healthcare Centre which will include consultation with a range of stakeholders, including the staff who were deployed to other CCLHD facilities.

“The review will consider issues such as patient and carer experience, staff experience, service demand, and quality and patient-safety measures. Once complete, the findings from the review will be shared with staff,” it said.

Last Friday (March 18), staff, which included Nurses, GPs, Ward Clerks and Allied Health Staff, attended a meeting with the Local Health District to consult on what the future of the Unit might look like, and how it will impact patients and those who work there.

The Long Jetty Continuing Care Branch of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) came away saying it fears it will not reopen.

Sara Taylor, Vice President of the Long Jetty Continuing Care Branch of the NSWNMA, said the Long Jetty Unit has an outstanding record of providing excellent care and health outcomes for elderly and NDIS patients.

“The permanent closure of the Long Jetty Unit would be an absolute waste of a beautiful facility and a devastating blow to the community.

“Removing 22 beds from the community would also negatively impact both Gosford and Wyong hospitals which are both currently experiencing ‘bed block’,” she said.

The Long Jetty Hospital, as it was known then, was opened in 1958 thanks to a community campaign and fundraising.

In 2000, it was refurbished and opened with 22 in-patient beds: 12 transitional care beds and 10 subacute beds that were both funded by the State and Federal governments.

Long Jetty Healthcare Centre has a history of providing essential for care for patients who have subacute needs, including post-surgery patients with orthopaedic needs, surgical patients, those requiring palliative care, patients awaiting guardianship or NDIS plans or patients waiting to be transferred to residential care homes.

Michelle Cashman Delegate of the Long Jetty Continuing Care branch of the NSWNMA said the patients Long Jetty cared for have not disappeared and are now in acute beds in Woy Woy or Wyong.

“The only current transitional care beds are in Woy Woy.

“Some of the Woy Woy patients are from the Upper Central Coast and are unable to see their family members due to the distance they have to travel now.

“This hinders the patient’s mental, emotional and physical recovery,” she said.

Cashman said that there are patients in acute beds, who do not require them, who instead would benefit from transitional care beds, but are not prepared to travel to Woy Woy as it is too far away from their homes, families and social networks at the upper end of the Coast.

“In my current ward there are approximately 15 patients that are taking up acute beds that could be transferred to Long Jetty thus freeing up acute bed for acute patients,” said Joy Bull, President of the Long Jetty Continuing Care Branch of the NSWNMA.

Geoff Eastaugh, Long Jetty Continuing Care Branch of the NSWNM Branch Official, explained that he had a patient at his current place of work who was suffering a life-threatening condition who waited over an hour to be transported to an Out-Patient unit.

He said that both Gosford and Wyong hospitals were in “level black” at the time, meaning that no beds were available.

“Meanwhile,” he said, “22 beds lay dormant in Long Jetty next door.”

A transitional care patient at Woy Woy, 90-year-old Elizabeth A Clarke, said that she is receiving great care at Woy Woy but she wishes she could be at Long Jetty so that she could be closer to friends and family.

“Please try, try, try to open Long Jetty transitional care unit again … maybe I’ll be able to move there for my care and wellbeing,” she said.

Staff say despite the backing of their patients, they fear for the future of the service as well as their own jobs.

“I felt that I was given no choice but to go along with the decision made about my future employment without having a say in this, with no consideration given to my feelings thoughts,” said Kate Molyneaux, Secretary of the Long Jetty Continuing Care Branch of the NSWNMA.

CCLHD issued a statement saying that “staff are assured their feedback is an important part of this review, and will be carefully considered.”

Nicola Riches

1 Comment on "Medical staff fear for the future of Long Jetty Healthcare Centre Unit"

  1. There are a lot of elderly people around Long Jetty hospital area and sad that the community has had its local Hospital closed down . Elderly patients need visitors to assist with recovery and when feeling unwell. These patients have friends, relatives who dont drive so are unable to visit in Gosford or woy woy area We need to look after our community Look at the staff who have been employed in long Jetty for many years Just proves that Long Jetty works Its always full of patients and staff!

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