Armidale Hospital hydrotherapy pool to reopen

POOL REOPENING: Armidale Hospital’s pool manager and head of physiotherapy, Gemma Model. Photo: Matt Bedford.
POOL REOPENING: Armidale Hospital’s pool manager and head of physiotherapy, Gemma Model. Photo: Matt Bedford.

Armidale Hospital’s hydrotherapy pool will reopen on July 24.

But there is barely anyone left to run the facility – with one part-time supervisor and no volunteers.

“Every volunteer I’ve spoken to has basically pulled the pin,” former councillor Jenny Bailey said.

Hunter New England Health buried them behind red tape, announcing in May they would be required to undertake exams and training courses to continue as volunteers.

“The main thing for me is you have to be able to kneel on the tiles to do CPR but I can’t because I lost my kneecaps in my accident,” Ms Bailey said.

“Most of us have limited movement which is half the reason we use the pool.”

Ms Bailey was also told her previous timeslot to use the facility would not be available and has been given no confirmation as to when she can access the pool again.

“We are extremely saddened by their actions,” she said.

The facility was shut indefinitely on January 11 due to water quality problems, leaving patients, private users and learn-to-swim groups with limited to no alternative.

Two months later the healthcare giant was hesitant to promote the installation of a new filtration system; gagging contractors and giving media the boot while trying to report the good news.

In May, HNEH announced the building needed further repairs – but dodged questions about what needed to be done.

It was a blow to the local Lions Club, who had historically provided ongoing support and funding to maintain the facility.

“There’s been no contact,” Club president Shane Chaffey said. “I just think … what’s next?”

There’s been no contact.

Shane Chaffey, in May

Local MP Adam Marshall welcomed the pool’s reopening on Thursday, but said the upgrades “won’t last forever”.

“This will be a big day for many in the community, who use the hydrotherapy pool for rehabilitation, exercise and swimming training,” Mr Marshall said.

“Eventually another issue will appear at this aging facility, which could threaten to close its doors once more.

“The community has spoken emphatically that they would like to see this service continue, however its future may lie elsewhere in town.

“I’d like to continue investigating options across Armidale, so that the people of the Northern Tablelands can be assured that they will continue to have access to a hydrotherapy pool well into the future.”