Surgeries cut as theatres heat up

SURGERIES at Maitland Hospital have been cut because of problems with the hospital’s airconditioning that have also reportedly caused dizziness and a nosebleed among staff.

The Newcastle Herald  has learned the hospital will reschedule more complex operations listed for the rest of the week ‘‘as a precautionary measure’’ because it is too hot in the hospital’s upstairs operating theatres.

There are reports operations such as emergency caesareans will be moved to John Hunter Hospital.

A Maitland Hospital representative said some surgeries would still be done.

Surgeries are typically conducted in rooms under 24degrees but staff reported it was up to 27degrees in the theatres.

Staff said the emergency department’s medication room had measured temperatures up to 30degrees. Medications should be kept below 25degrees.

Nurses have also complained of dizziness, and one of a nosebleed, from having to work under a poorly functioning unit in the emergency department.

Hunter New England Health said  it did not have any specific reports of staff experiencing nosebleeds or fainting.

Nursing and Midwifery Services director Sue McFadyen said hospital staff did treat a staff member who reported feeling unwell.

‘‘Medications that need to be kept at reduced temperatures are refrigerated and the refrigeration system continues to function as usual,’’ she said.

The Herald reported on Tuesday the emergency department’s airconditioner had not worked properly since it was installed two years ago as part of a $10million redevelopment.

Conditions were made worse when the unit had technical faults at the weekend, which reduced its performance.

Hunter New England Health said the hospital’s airconditioner was scheduled to be replaced with a more advanced system in the next six months, but staff have been told it will not happen this summer.

NSW Nurses Association Hunter organiser Matt Byrne said it was unforgivable that a newly designed facility could have such a basic flaw.

He said the union would take up the issue with Hunter New England Health.

‘‘It should be addressed as a matter of priority,’’ he said.

‘‘They should be doing regular ice-water rounds and giving staff a break in an airconditioned room.’’

A staff member, who did not want to be identified, said the airconditioner problems had become worse in the past two months.

‘‘It’s 27 to 30 degrees in some rooms,’’ they said.

‘‘It’s hard when you are running around. The staff are expected to just work in it.’’

Ms McFadyen said maintenance staff were monitoring the system closely and had installed induction fans to boost its performance.

‘‘The comfort and safety of our patients is our top priority and we apologise for any distress or inconvenience caused,’’ she said.

‘‘The hospital’s airconditioning system remains operational, however as a result of high temperatures the efficiency of the system was reduced for temporary periods.’’

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