30 May 2024

Cootamundra health plan sparks residents' petition demanding hospital units be retained

| Jarryd Rowley
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Draft plans for the Cootamundra Hospital could see its pathology, surgical and birthing units make way for more spaces in the emergency department. Photo: Supplied.

The future of Cootamundra’s health services is set for a change and local community members are invited to have their say.

If approved, the new draft plan will see a drop in inpatient beds from 30 to 24, a rise in tirage beds, the hospital’s first CT space, added staffing accommodation and the potential culling of the surgery and birthing suites.

The plan notes that the change in spaces and available beds reflects the projections for an increase in demand for medical beds and a decrease in surgery and birthing needs, stating that Temora, Young and Wagga Wagga services are better and more likely to be chosen by patients.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) chief executive Jill Ludford said communities played a critical role in the process of developing a health services plan.

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“Significant stakeholder engagement was undertaken involving local clinical staff, consumers, community representatives, key stakeholders and health organisations to inform the draft plan,” Ms Ludford said.

“We thank the community for the positive response. More than 850 people – about 10 per cent of the local population – completed the Cootamundra Health Services Survey. Consultation sessions and community workshops, involving almost 50 people, were also held.

“I want to give a special thanks to the Partnership Reference Committee, Cootamundra Gundagai Regional Council and Cootamundra Local Health Advisory Committee, who provided exceptional support during the community consultation process.

“We encourage residents of Cootamundra and surrounding communities to provide feedback about the plan for their health service, and their future health needs, during the public exhibition period.”

In contrast to the 850 people who have responded to the community consultation, almost 600 people have signed a petition on Change.org titled Save Cootamundra’s Pathology, Surgical and Birthing Departments.

Cootamundra residents have taken to social media to express their concerns about the potential changes.

One of the petition’s biggest advocates, Paige Sedgwick, wrote on the Cootamundra Matters Facebook page that she has relied on the hospital in emergencies and would hate to see the town lose such important services.

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“Like many of you I’m deeply concerned about the possibility of Cootamundra Hospital closing its Birthing, Surgical or Pathology Departments,” she wrote.

“We deserve to have a well-funded hospital within our growing community.

“As such I’ve been working with friends to put together a petition to make our voices heard on this issue and fight to keep our hospital open.

“So if you think these departments are essential to our town join me in having our voices heard by signing this petition today.”

The draft plan will be on display until 23 June.

To view the draft or provide feedback, visit the MLHD website here, and to sign the Save Cootamundra’s Pathology, Surgical and Birthing Departments petition, click here.

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