In the Media

Future of the hydrotherapy pool at the Flinders Medical Centre

ABC Radio Adelaide | Leon Byner and David Bevan

Leon Byner: In this next half hour or so we’re going to be talking to Vickie Kaminski, she was brought over here from Canada to manage Transforming Health and she ended up running the whole show. She’s got the whole box and dice. Jack Snelling said ‘you know what while you’re here why don’t you just do everything; I’m going, let me know how it gets on’. The reason we’re talking Vickie Kaminski today is that we got a call on Friday from Ted at Happy Valley. Ted was very concerned about the hydrotherapy pool at the Flinders Medical Centre. He’s been using it for years; he’s had a whole series of operations, he and a whole lot of other people, I think 200 people at Flinders were told ‘look get out of the pool because we need to focus on acute patients here. Some of you have been using this pool for years as a recovery and I’m sorry you’ve got to find other places’. The department was ever so sympathetic; it handed out about a dozen or so alternatives, so ‘why don’t you check those out’ that just opened up a flood gate of people saying ‘we’ve got a similar problem with the pool at the old Repat’, somebody rang in from Murray Bridge saying ‘there’s a pool behind the hospital up there and that’s being restricted as well’ and then somebody said ‘well we use the pool at the Minda facilities and that’s being restricted’. So it’s a big issue a lot of these people they have been suffering for a long time and the use of these pools gives them some respite, they can do it with dignity because these places are quite discreet; you’re not going along to you know ‘Attack Fitness’ gym where you can be surrounded by a whole lot of buffed young men and women. You can hobble into the pool with your sore hip and not be embarrassed, so they love these pools, it was very important to them. Anyway, we got a call yesterday from the Health Department saying ‘you know what, there are a lot of back-flips done in swimming pools and we’re going to do one right now’ – I am paraphrasing of course. Vickie Kaminski, SA Health Chief Executive, welcome to the studio what’s going to happen with the hydrotherapy pool at the Flinders Medical Centre?

Vickie Kaminski: So following all of the concerns that we heard raised through your show, and thank you for everybody who called in to make us aware of the issues, we realised that we really had misjudged this. We didn’t realise the amount of support that was being provided to community and what was going to be lost if we took it away. So we’re going to change that. We’re going to keep the pool available for people at Flinders. We’re also looking at the Repat. We’ve heard from ACH that they’re going to continue with the pool at ACH, so we’re now working with them to see if that means that our Repat patients can fit into that pool and if not we’ll make room for them at Flinders as well. So we’re looking to open up about 340 spots all told at Flinders and make it available.

David Bevan: So if you got one of those letters in the last few weeks I think it was from the 1st of December, ‘you’re going to have to find another pool’ you can tear that up and throw it in the bin.

Vickie Kaminski: You can tear that up and throw it away. Now we’re going to be changing the times that we have available. We’re going to have some slots in the middle of the day, so that people that want to come during the day can come and we’re going to have some evening slots for people that work that need to come after hours, so we’ll be getting all of that information out to our pool users in the next week or so as we finalise it and letting them know what it means for ACH as well.

David Bevan: Right, so it may be that while you can still use that pool it won’t be at the same time as you’re used to.

Vickie Kaminski: Yeah it may be, it may be because we’re seeing an increased number with all of our new care pathways we’ve got greater utilisation of some of the hydrotherapy pool exercises, tools to get people moved back to their home in a more expeditious way to shorten their length of stay we get them into the pool quicker and that might take up more space during some of the times, but we’re being very cautious to say we’re going to have times during the day, we’re going to have times in the evening and we’re going to include a note in that letter to say ‘if this doesn’t work for you let us know. We’re here to work with you, we’ll find a way to make it work’.

David Bevan: Which is what you should have done.

Vickie Kaminski: Which is how we should have communicated this in the first place, we were thinking we’d send a statement into you but we shouldn’t avoid a thrashing when we deserve it and we really messed this one up, so we’re here to say we’re sorry and we’re going to do it right.

David Bevan: Well the guy I spoke to yesterday – I’m sure he’s a lovely man – but he didn’t know how many people were affected, I said ‘how many?’ He said 60 or ‘it might have been 200’ and as we’re talking he said ‘oh it’s 200’. Now that spoke volumes to me because if you’ve got a department and they’re making a decision and they don’t even know how many people are affected then how can you possibly say you’ve thought this through?

Vickie Kaminski:  Right, so we have 130 attendances at Flinders and we have 180 attendances at the Repat. It might be reversed, I have to think about that, but it’s those numbers that’s not 130 people, that could be somebody who comes two or three times a week we have 130 attendances at one pool, 180 at the other, total of 310. So we’re going to make sure at Flinders we have 340 spots we’re going to make sure that we work with ACH to keep as much Repat open as we can.

David Bevan: that’s the voice of Vickie Kaminski come in, she says, to get a thrashing because she reckons they deserve it. Ted from Happy Valley started all of this off and he’s listening. Good morning Ted.

Caller Ted: Thank you for your efforts on behalf of all those people who were to have been affected by this and my congratulations to Vickie for swallowing what must be an enormous humble pie, but I can assure you that the people involved in this situation will be forever grateful.

David Bevan: Have you got all the information you need though Ted? Is there anything you would like to clarify because sometimes the devil’s in the detail.

Caller Ted: Well the detail frightens me a little bit because I used to go at 11 o’clock to 11.30 on a Wednesday. We just have to wait and see what the plan is that Vickie’s talking about that the team at Flinders are organising, but I’m sure they will accommodate people now that empathy has been shown in this situation.

David Bevan: All right, thank you for your call, Vickie, anything you want to say to Ted?

Vickie Kaminski: No, just you know thank you very much for bringing it to our attention we make lots of decisions that sometimes don’t bubble up to my level to know that we’re doing it, so we need to hear we make lots of really good decisions at that level, sometimes we get it wrong, so it’s important that we do hear it, I prefer to hear it from inside the LHM but when I don’t,

David Bevan: [laugh] You can always listen to ABC Radio Adelaide.

Vicki Kaminski: I’ll listen to ABC and find out.

David Bevan: Now this must have a flow-on effect though because I’m sure that the Health Department wasn’t kicking these people out of the pool just because they decided to be difficult to get along with, they must have had other plans for those pools, so what happens to that now?

Vickie Kaminski: Well so we may have to extend the time that we actually provide those kinds of services to our inpatients; we may have to change the days, I mean what we’ve got to do now is take a look at what that whole plan looks like and how we fit everybody in, but as I sit here today we know that we can afford to have 340 episodes of hydrotherapy for the public inside the pool, we can manage that it won’t be necessarily as free flowing as the times were before, maybe a bit more restrictive but we’re aiming to have the middle of the day, so when we have patients who are getting ready for lunch and then having a nap after lunch that’s a good time for us to open it up to the public in the evenings after dinner and over the dinner hour.

David Bevan: Thank God for election campaigns. When this came up on Friday I said to our producer this will be resolved within a matter of days because the Government is doing so many back-flips; it doesn’t matter whether it’s over bus lanes on Anzac Highway, whether it’s Transforming Health, whether it’s over cardiology at the QEH you see a fight you put it out. This was always going to be resolved and it’s being resolved because there’s an election coming in March.

Vickie Kaminski: Well I would hope that we’d be just as responsive to the community. I mean we really didn’t understand at the level that the decision was made how emotional this was and how it was going to affect the general public. You tend to think you know somebody’s been in the pool, coming into the pool regularly, they’re living at home, they can go to another pool; that might be as simplistic as the thought is and when you see the reaction and hear the reaction and hear some of the personal experiences you realise that we really missed it, we didn’t get it right.

David Bevan: Okay.

Kelly Vincent, Dignity Party MLC

David Bevan: Now quickly Kelly Vincent from the Dignity Party, good morning you’ve got a question or a comment?

Kelly Vincent: I do, the comment is you know time and time again we’ve seen these kind of back-flips happen, these decisions happen, we’ve seen it here, we’ve seen it with the Flinders neonatal intensive care where that decision was reversed. How many times do we have to you know leave it up to the public and people in the media to bring vital information to Government. I guess the other question is how are these 340 spots going to be prioritised? Because for example I’ve got a letter here from a constituent who is a young man but he’s been using the Repat pool because he’s recovering from surgery and has been for the past 18 months or so and he’s been told that his access will cease on the 29th of September. So I guess I’m wondering if there’s 340 spots, how are they going to be prioritised for those people that need it the most?

Back to Vickie Kaminski

Vicki Kaminski: So 340 is slightly more than what’s currently being used in both pools, so we’ve got 130 sessions at one and 180 at the other, that’s 310. So we’re hoping that the need to prioritise is going to be limited because we’ve got sufficient spots for everybody currently using it. When we start to look at how we increase the coverage it might be that if we can continue the use the pool at Repat we keep those spots open as well that gives us then some flexibility for increased community sessions.

David Bevan: Okay.