By Renee Wood
A petition has gained more than 1500 signatures calling for the State Government to introduce an emergency department and maternity ward at Healesville Hospital.
Healesville resident Alan Reynolds created the online document and has been urging locals to sign up before it gets tabled in Parliament this week.
“Being one of the most tourist destination and more than 150,000 local residents in Yarra Valley, there should be a hospital in the area with Emergency and Maternity,” Mr Reynolds said.
Mr Reynolds is concerned the local hospital isn’t able to offer those services when other towns with less populations do.
“Its really frustrating – we already lost Warburton hospital, services in Lilydale Hospital. I need to appreciate MP Hon. Wendy Lovell for sponsoring our petition in Parliament and it is already signed by 1500 people.”
Mr Reynolds would like the government to initiate steps for Eastern Health to start emergency and maternity at the hospital.
“We already have space in the Hospital to accommodate this. At least we need an Urgent Care Centre at the Hospital with one doctor and two Nurses with 24 hour access.”
The necessity for urgent care and a maternity ward has been fought for for sometime by the ‘Services for Healesville Hospital’ Group.
The petition has now closed and Chairperson Jane Judd is grateful Mr Reynolds is helping to support the cause through the petition, but said the group would prefer to sign a petition that’s pushing for ‘urgent care’ over an emergency department.
“After working many years in the health sector, I know that accidents and emergency as a terminology, and a department is unachievable at Healesville, it’s financially impossible,” Ms Judd said.
“So I was keen to support the idea that Alan tweaked his petition, to refer specifically to the encouragement of Eastern Health to support Urgent Care Services.
Ms Judd said urgent care is managed by calling in doctors as required and run by specially trained nurses.
“Accident and emergency requires full time medical people on site all the time and that’s not achievable, unfortunately, at a financial level.”
Currently without either services, Yarra Valley residents are having to drive on average over 45 minutes or more to reach hospitals in other LGAs for emergency or maternal services.
Yarra Valley Midwives is also available locally for home births.
“We’ve advocated for the return consistently, saying that it’s very stressful for people, even beyond Healesville out at Marysville to try and get to a hospital when they’re in labor when the distances are so great.”
A Department of Health spokesperson said, Eastern Health provides services from Box Hill, Maroondah, Angliss and Healesville hospitals to meet the needs of our communities.
“The Department of Health and Eastern Health continuously work together to ensure services are available to meet the needs of communities in the east and Yarra Valley,” they said.