Goulburn MP Wendy Tuckerman says she's been assured one of the city's key mental health facilities would not be closing down.
Ms Tuckerman sought the assurances after patients at Kenmore Hospital's 12-bed Ron Hemmings Centre were told last Friday that they would be moved to the Chisholm Ross Centre in two weeks while a review was undertaken. Patients claimed they were told the Centre would shut.
The relative of one, Robert Foster, said his wife and family were devastated by the move. The Hemmings Centre is designed for longer-term non-acute mental health rehabilitation while Chisholm Ross is for acute care.
"My wife says she won't go back there, that it is too much of a backward step at a point when she has made great strides," he said.
READ MORE: Healthy Chisholm Ross talks
His wife, whom The Post has chosen not to name, suffers borderline personality disorder and has suicidal thoughts that vary in effect, Mr Foster says.
She has spent periodic stints in Chisholm Ross over the past four to five years but was happy and relieved when admitted to the Hemmings Centre two weeks ago. Mr Foster says it is a much more appropriate and family friendly environment.
A Health District spokesman said the planned review was not about the centre's future but "the safety of care" and the "appropriateness of the model of care."
Ms Tuckerman said she took up the matter after relatives feared the centre would close altogether.
"When I received that information I went to the (Mental Health) Minister (Bronnie Taylor) and said 'this is ridiculous,'" she said.
"I sought a briefing and expressed to the Minister it was totally unacceptable. Discussions are now going on with the Department."
If it (the Ron Hemmings Unit) is not being fully utilised, we need to understand the reason for that and what needs to be done to address it.Goulburn MP Wendy Tuckerman
The MP said while she supported the six-month review, which also covered mental health services more broadly, she was vehemently opposed to moving patients out while it was underway. If the reasons were related to patient safety, "well and good," but the model of care was a "totally separate issue" and shouldn't justify shifting clients.
She said the Minister was "not happy" either, was reviewing her concerns and what the Health Service was trying to achieve.
However she had been assured the Hemmings unit was not closing and neither was the adjoining psycho-geriatric unit, the Morgan Centre.
"If it (the Ron Hemmings Unit) is not being fully utilised, we need to understand the reason for that and what needs to be done to address it," she said.
Ms Tuckerman will meet with the Health District's mental health director on Friday, while Ms Taylor was having discussions with NSW Health.
Mr Foster told The Post that while Chisholm Ross had served a vital purpose for his wife, the Hemmings Centre was more suited.
"I was relieved when she was accepted because I knew the treatment would cater for what she needed," he said.
"In acute care it is the bare minimum of what is needed to keep people alive. I'm not saying people weren't doing their job but our hope was that her illness could be managed long-term."
Mr Foster said his wife wanted the care, was devastated by the news and now felt she "wasn't worth helping."
Nor did he understand why patients had to shift while the review was underway.
"I've heard five patients were turned away because of this review. That's five people who won't get the help they need," Mr Foster said.
The Health District spokesman confirmed the transfer and said mental health rehabilitation care would continue to be provided at Chisholm Ross.
"SNSWLHD staff are currently engaging with the patients and their families to ensure they continue to receive quality, appropriate care and feel supported throughout the transfer and at CRC," he said in a statement.
"The (Health District) is also working with Ron Hemmings Unit staff and industrial bodies to identify redeployment options during the period of the review."
Four patients were receiving non-acute care. The other two were expected to be discharged this week.
He said Chisholm Ross did not have a waiting list and could be accommodated.
"SNSWLHD puts the safety of patients, consumers and staff first," he said.
The spokesman did not answer a series of questions, including what had prompted the review and whether both the Morgan and Hemmings Centre's future were guaranteed.
Several cottages for clients are also attached to the latter unit.
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