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Patient puzzled at out-of-town hospital transport options

An Echuca man says he was left with few options when he was told he would need to arrange his own transport back home from Geelong hospital.

KATHLEEN TONINI December 4, 2012 4:23am

An Echuca man believes there should be a service to transport patients home from out-of-town hospitals.

James Bell recently had a heart attack and was taken to the Echuca hospital.

He was then transferred to a Geelong hospital by air ambulance.

‘‘My wife and I raised the question of how I would get back to Echuca,’’ Mr Bell said.

‘‘We were told that as they were sending me to Geelong, they would ensure they would arrange transport back to Echuca.’’

Mr Bell’s wife does not drive.

He emphasised the treatment he received from ambulance and hospital staff was excellent.

After having surgery, Mr Bell said he asked how he would get back to Echuca and was told he would have to arrange his own transport.

‘‘So I was left with no alternative but to arrange transport with my daughter, who had to take two days off work and drive from Frankston to Geelong and then to Echuca, and then return to Frankston — a total of 684km,’’ he said.

Mr Bell and his wife, both 72, are pensioners and had to reimburse their daughter her wages and petrol money for the trip.

‘‘If it was not for family, I would still be in Geelong,’’ Mr Bell said.

Mr Bell said he wanted others who may find themselves in a similar situation to be aware of their options.

Echuca hospital emergency department nurse unit manager Craig Frew said while the hospital arranged hospital-to-hospital transfers, if a patient was discharged, transport was their responsibility.

He said this was the case for all public hospitals and staff at Echuca Regional Health would not have indicated otherwise to a patient.

Mr Frew said if a patient needed to be transferred back for further treatment, then a patient transport by ambulance or a private provider would be arranged.

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