THE uncertain future of Wagga’s hydrotherapy pool is preventing people from taking up the invaluable therapy, according to the Wagga Arthritis Association president.
Lorraine Thomas said fewer and fewer arthritis sufferers were choosing to take up hydrotherapy because they feared the community-funded pool at Wagga Base could close at any second, plunging what should be ongoing treatment into jeopardy.
It follows Murrumbidgee Local Health District refusing to rule out its plans for the pool other than confirming discussions were taking place with Calvary to potentially strike an arrangement that would allow public patients use of the private facility.
But Mrs Thomas and other pool campaigners, like Karenne Connors whose mother fundraised for the pool in the 1980s, believe public patients will lose out under the deal – despite Wagga Base Hospital general manager Denis Thomas reporting a rapidly declining number of community groups that use the pool.
“(Calvary) will need (its pool) for inpatients, outpatients and for joint replacements,” Mrs Thomas said.
“I think (public patients) will be right down the list of priorities. We can’t get any real answers from the sixth floor (on the future of the pool). We might only get seven or eight people coming, not knowing next week or the week after, we might be told it’s closing.”
Mrs Thomas, who has suffered osteoarthritis since 2000 and has since had two knee reconstructions, said hydrotherapy played an imperative role in her recovery and ongoing treatment.
“How disconcerting it is not knowing what the future holds,” she said.
“Water was the main thing that got me on my feet again. People might not get that opportunity unless they’re a private patient. It’s just not right.”
Mrs Thomas considered current alternative sites in Wagga unsuitable.
“I don’t know what we’ll do,” she said.
But Mr Thomas said there was a shift away from hydrotherapy under contemporary models of care for inpatients in recent years.
“Wagga Base Hospital rarely utilises the pool for inpatient services,” Mr Thomas said.
“Since January 2014 there has been a declining number of outpatients and community members using the pool. Current utilisation of the pool averages 10 hours per week.”
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