Stacey Bellgardt wants to share dad's experiences with Wagga hospital managers

Wagga woman Stacey Bellgardt wants to tell health managers exactly what it is like to be a hospital patient with a disability.

Ms Bellgardt’s dad Darrell Watkins is a paraplegic who has been in hospital since August 22, 2017, the day he suffered a heart attack.

Mr Watkins initially spent eight days in Wagga Regional Referral Hospital, before being flown to Sydney for bypass surgery.

When Mr Watkins returned to Wagga after his surgery, he was sent by road in a passenger transport vehicle.

The trip took about seven hours, Ms Bellgardt believes.

Once he was back in Wagga, staff found he had two pressure wounds; one on his back and one on his heel.

Mr Watkins is still in the hospital’s rehabilitation unit, where he is awaiting a skin graft, a procedure that will be carried out in Sydney.

The surgery has been cancelled twice due to a shortage of beds and, at this stage, is set for February 16.

Ms Bellgardt believes it is possible the pressure sores may not have developed if procedures had been different, both in hospital and during transport.

“During the transport he wasn’t moved, wasn’t turned over at all,” she said.

“This has been very stressful.”

Stacey Bellgardt

Stacey Bellgardt

Ms Bellgardt is now hoping to share her father’s experiences with senior hospital management, with the idea of helping develop the best possible care for people with disabilities.

She has found that even organising for someone to take her dad outside into the sunshine is not always straight forward, having encountered “OH&S” issues at least twice.

“Dad’s not the only person in Wagga in a wheelchair,” Ms Bellgardt said.

“I’m speaking out for all those people. Some people don’t have anyone can speak for them.”

Director of Wagga Rural Referral Hospital Helen Cooper said she would welcome the opportunity to meet with Ms Bellgardt’s family to listen to their suggestions.