Ouse Hospital

Ouse Hospital is dying the death of a thousand cuts. Today the building was again awash with despair as with tears and hugs we farewelled another two residents. They held us tight; they said “We are too old for all of this”, and again we lined the driveway to wave until they were out of sight. Then we hugged each other. These two residents have become the public face of the evictions process. Their story has been told widely and well, and yet still they were not permitted to stay. What hope then do even more vulnerable people have? Think about how it will be for the person whose turn comes next week. Think how it would be if after a devastating illness you were left with your intellect intact and with a full range of human emotions, but you were trapped in a body which was no longer able to move you around, and your voice was no longer able to express your feelings or wishes. Imagine the shocked despair and helpless anger with which you would receive the news that you were being sent away to live with strangers. There are others with their own life stories who are waiting for the tap on the shoulder. The sacrifice these residents are being forced to make is usually only forced upon refugees fleeing from war, famine or vicious dictators. They have been told to pack up their belongings, to say goodbye to their friends, and to leave their home, never to return in their lifetimes, except perhaps for a fleeting visit. When their names are called they are told that there is not a moment to lose- that they are not permitted to linger even for a little while to screw up their courage, to gather together their memories, and to wrap themselves in the warm cloak of familiarity and friendship before their long journey. They must expect that if they have to make such a momentous sacrifice, then surely the vacuum left by their departure will be filled by something immediate and marvellous for those they leave behind. But it is a cruel farce. Nothing has been gained, nothing good is happening, nothing useful or relevant is being planned. What good is an expensive wheelchair-access bus when our dependent residents are gone and no seriously mobility-impaired person will be able to survive in Central Highlands. What good is expensive renovation of the hospital building if nobody lives or recuperates there anymore. What good are lots of new offices and consultation rooms if all sick or ageing people have left the area because their future health care is no longer available here. What good are hollow promises of palliative care and respite beds when even out-of-hours emergency care is becoming too logistically difficult. Staff are reaching the end of their endurance, exhausted by the emotions of residents’ departures and stressed about their own uncertain futures. The community is being ignored, in the apparent hope that once the point of no return has been reached then somehow the anger and anxiety will just evaporate. Someone from DHHS who thinks they know what is best for us must find the courage to come to Central Highlands and meet us face to face. And this must happen soon.

Phyl Smithurst,
31 Curlys Lane,
Ellendale 7140.