Sharkie seeks answers about Kalimna closure

Sharkie seeks answers about Kalimna closure

The Federal Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie, is seeking answers from the State Government about its decision to close the Kalimna aged care facility in Strathalbyn.

The NXT MP has asked to see copies of the reports that showed the facility could not obtain a fire safety compliance certificate as a result of changed regulations.

Ms Sharkie is also seeking assurances that the 24 bed licences assigned to Kalimna will stay in the Strathalbyn community.

“My office is seeking clarification about statements made at last week’s public meeting by Stephen Wade, the Opposition Spokesman for Health, that the 2014 changes to Federal legislation would not have changed the accreditation of Kalimna and therefore prevented the facility from receiving its fire safety certificate,” she said.

“That’s not the advice we received when I found out about the closure last month but, given the serious consequences for residents, I have asked the offices of the State and Federal Health Ministers to provide further information about how the laws affected the application of building codes.

“I also think the community should be able to see the State Government’s fire safety and engineering reports on Kalimna so they can find out why Country Health SA made a decision that has had such a significant impact on Kalimna residents and their families and the district.

“I have asked Health Minister Jack Snelling to make those documents available.

“If that request is turned down, I and my NXT MLC colleague John Darley will submit an FOI request.

“The 24 bed licences leftover from Kalimna are a separate issue and I wholeheartedly agree that Strathalbyn cannot lose them, not with the population ageing as fast as it is in this district. We need more beds, not less.

“I will be advocating strongly at the Federal level to make sure they stay in the immediate area not only in the short-term, but in the long-term.

“Country Health SA says nothing will happen to the Kalimna site without consultation with the local Health Advisory Council.

“Given the deep dissatisfaction with the level of consultation given Kalimna residents and their families during the closure, I will be pushing for a far more inclusive and transparent communication about the future of the facility which was built with so much community fundraising.

“Again, I need to stress that the closure of Kalimna was entirely a State Government decision.

“I have sought in writing from Minister Snelling the exact reasons for Kalimna’s closure and the movement of the 15 residents who were in the nursing home. 

“My understanding at this point is that Kalimna failed a fire safety audit (I have requested a copy of the audit) because changes were made to Federal Government Regulations.

“At the time of the closure I sought assurance from the Minister that nobody would be forced to leave Strathalbyn, that assurance was given.

“I also queried whether the building could be changed to accommodate the new regulations; the Minister advised verbally that it could not happen.

Ms Sharkie said there were some issues that needed to be addressed about the closure, including: 

  • What would become of the Kalimna facility? If the facility cannot be used to house people overnight because of changes to Federal regulations, then it should have a day purpose;
  • Assurance that each resident that was moved is in a township location of their choice;
  • That the Strathalbyn Hospital will continue to offer medical services as well as care for the residents in the hospital;
  • That a long term plan is put in place to address the rapidly ageing population in Strathalbyn and surrounding areas.  Our nursing homes are full now, we need to ensure there are beds for permanent stay and respite into the future. 

“Once I have a written response from the Minister I will share it with the community,” Ms Sharkie said.