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Hospital Crutches Shortage Reaching Crisis Point

Sunday 9 December 2007 "Quality and Humanity in Health"

Hospital Crutches Shortage Reaching Crisis Point

Hospital staff are becoming increasingly concerned about the dwindling pool of crutches available for people with broken bones and sprains, saying the hospital is nearing a crisis point in the lead up to Christmas.

"This is the third year in a row that we have been faced with a shortage of crutches, due to people not returning the hospital’s equipment once they have finished using it," said Leanne Samuel, Interim Chief Operating Officer.

“We are asking the public to please urgently return their crutches and other items of hospital equipment that have been borrowed and are no longer needed,” said Mrs Samuel.

On average, 40 pairs of crutches are issued each week to Southlanders who have broken bones or had other injuries which require the assistance of crutches to move around.

"That's a lot of people who may be prevented from leaving hospital and returning back to their home, their job and their friends - if we don't get our loan equipment back," Mrs Samuel said.

On average, a person requires crutches for a period of up to 12 weeks for a broken ankle and 10 - 14 days for a sprained ankle.

"If these are not returned once the person is able to walk without them , then we have to look at buying replacement pairs of crutches."

Mrs Samuel said that each pair of crutches cost about $26 and the replacement value of crutches could reach up to $50,000 a year if they were not returned when people had finished using them.

"That's money we can use in plenty of other health service areas, if people would just return the crutches when they have finished."

Mrs Samuel said that people were either forgetting to return the equipment, losing it, shifting away from Southland or simply are not bothering to bring it back to the hospital.

Equipment can be dropped of to the Equipment Store at the back of the Southland Hospital campus between 8am-4pm weekdays; or to the Therapy Services department on the ground floor of Southland Hospital. Telephone inquiries can be made to the Equipment Store on telephone 03 218 1949.


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