September 23 - 29, 2018: Issue 377


Upgrade, Not Demolition Needed At Mona Vale Hospital: Peter Phelps

Local author, film and TV star Peter Phelps is calling for acute services at Mona Vale Hospital to be retained, saying that what’s needed is an upgrade rather than demolition of its buildings.

Emergency, maternity, surgical and intensive care departments will all close at Mona Vale when the Northern Beaches Hospital opens at Frenchs Forest at the end of October. The main hospital building will be demolished next year. 

Speaking as MC at the Save Mona Vale Hospital Big Picnic last Sunday, Phelps encouraged residents to speak up to make sure local politicians get the message that the community wants acute care at the hospital and its iconic main building saved.  

“We have a local government, whose leader, the mayor, is not elected by you,” he said. 

“We have a state government, whose Premier, is not elected by you. 

“We have a federal government with a Prime Minister who is not elected by you. 

“So that it’s only through your petition, your voices, that we can keep medical services here at Mona Vale.” 

Phelps acknowledged the value of some recent developments at the hospital, such as the rehabilitation unit and 10-bed palliative care unit.

“But we do need the existing services,” he said. 

“We need an upgrade not demolition of what we have.” 

Another renowned local actor Richard Roxburgh last week condemned the decision to close acute services at Mona Vale Hospital as “dunderheadesness”, saying the NSW government should reconsider its decision. 

Hundreds of residents joined the Big Picnic in the park next door to the hospital last Sunday, where a larger-than-life sized puppet of Nurse Karen Draddy - who managed and advocated for maternity services at the hospital for nearly 30 years – made an appearance. 

Jools Farrell, Helena Mooney, Karen Draddy and friends at the MVH picnic

Picnickers arrived at the park as Matthew James played didgeridoo, and were then entertained by international jazz duo Joy and Dave Yates, followed by The Rions, a Year 9 band from Barrenjoey High School, whose set included a special version of “Let It Be”.  

Clown Jean Paul Bell introduced “Dr Roger Ring” to the audience, a supposed internationally renowned thoracic surgeon who demonstrated “the surgery we need to apply to our political class” – as he mimed ripping the guts out of a patient. 

Nurses at the picnic warned that patients will die unnecessarily and women will give birth beside the road after the closure because of the extra distance to the new hospital. 

Jools Farrell, a long-term emergency nurse, said injuries such as broken bones and drownings often occurred in the Pittwater area due to the surrounding water, high cliffs, skate park and cyclists knocked off bikes.  

Ms Farrell, who trained at Mona Vale Hospital and worked in a specialist trauma centre in the US for three years, is also concerned about the risk for heart attack patients, who she said needed treatment within minutes. 

“If you’re at Palm Beach, what’s it going to be? Beam me up Scotty – up to Frenchs Forest Hospital?" Ms Farrell told the hundreds of picnickers. 

“It’s just not going to work. And sadly there are going to be deaths. 

“It’ll be on Rob Stokes' shoulders as far as I’m concerned.” 

NSW Health Department statistics from the website show that of 35,000 presentations to Mona Vale Hospital last year: 

  • 144 needed immediate medical attention - all except one of them requiring resuscitation.
  • 4,700 needed help within 10 minutes for life-threatening conditions.
  •  Another 12,000 needed to be seen within 30 minutes.
  •  And in total, 17,000 people needed urgent attention within 30 minutes.

Inez Addison - who has 10 years’ experience as an intensive care nurse and a daughter with anaphylaxis - explained how on a number of occasions her daughter had turned blue, struggling to breathe.

With waits of over 30 minutes for an ambulance, most recently in August when the closest one was at Waroongah, she has had to drive her daughter to Mona Vale Hospital. 

“So now not only are they moving our hospital further away, we’ve got an ambulance system that’s overburdened…,” she said. 

“Where does this leave our community?” 

“When you are sick, time is of the essence. The quicker you get medical attention, the higher your chance of survival.”

Helena Mooney, a doula from Northern Beaches Maternity Services, said her group had been lobbying the NSW Government to improve local public maternity services since members discovered Mona Vale Hospital’s maternity unit would close.

Ms Mooney said they had called for a free-standing birthing unit close to home that could be supported by the hospital at Frenchs Forest – modelled on a similar one at Ryde, which is supported by Royal North Shore Hospital. 

“The reason we were told 'No' was political - because they had already sold off our public health care,” Ms Mooney said.

“So now women are at risk of birthing their babies on the side of the road. 

“It’s such a travesty that we’re losing the possibility to birth our babies close to home. 

“It’s postcode health care and we’re at a severe disadvantage.” 

Others who spoke at the picnic included former Sea Eagles legend Max Brown and the first person born at Mona Vale Hospital Chelsey Baker.     

Ms Baker, who lives at Avalon, also encouraged hospital supporters to email Pittwater MP Rob Stokes and Health Minister Brad Hazzard, saying they want Mona Vale Hospital to remain as a Level 3 facility with acute care services. 

Chelsey Baker at the MVH Picnic

"From a purely personal perspective, I feel incredibly sad that the government is closing our hospital,” Ms Baker said later. 

“Being the first baby born there and the fact that Mona Vale has treated every member of my family over the years, means I do have a close connection. 

“But beyond those emotional ties, I'm very angry and quite fearful that due to the distance required to reach the new hospital in an emergency, many sick or injured people in our community are going to be in very real danger, so it's not just about me and my family.

“It is simply too far on our heavily clogged, flood prone, often single lane, roads to reach the new hospital from our northern beaches area. 

“The tyranny of distance is going to put peoples' lives at risk and means our community is vulnerable.” 



North Steyne Boardriders Win Nudie Australian Boardriders Battle At North Narrabeen 

Arch Whiteman, NASA - Photo by Ethan Smith/Surfing NSW

North Steyne Boardriders have taken out the nudie Australian Boardriders Battle central qualifying event, overcoming eight of NSW’s most talented boardriders club from north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Newcastle.

The Manly based club took top honours following a blisteringly hot display of surfing punchy two-foot surf. The five-person team, made up of Beau Mitchell, Blake Levett, Kai Otton, Saxon Reber and Hunter Kelleher made light work of the wind-blown conditions, posting a respectable combined heat total of 27.76 to get the upper hand against Avoca, North Avalon and North Narrabeen who claimed second, third and fourth respectively.

As a result, the top three clubs have qualified for the upcoming National Final in Newcastle. 

“This is our first win since doing this event series,” said club stalwart Blake Levett. “Last year we were fortunate enough to make the final of the team's event, so to go one step further feels amazing. It’s always been a goal to take this event out and I think I speak for the entire club when I say how stoked we all are to win.” 

Ben Penny (Queenscliff) was awarded the AirAsia Wave of the Day for a massive near-perfect nine-point ride in the opening heat. 

Liam Mortensen (NASA) claimed the Oakley Prizm Performer Award for his overall dominance in his heats. 

All the info and action photographs HERE

Jamie Thomson, Narrabeen - Photo by Ethan Smith/Surfing NSW


Bungan's Holly Wawn Surfs Solid Week At UR ISA World Surfing Games In Japan: Sally Fitzgibbons Wins Gold And Team Australia Secures Silver Medal

Holly with a young fan earlier this week - photo Ben Reed/International Surfing Association (ISA) 

                                   Holly Wawn in Japan this week - photo Ben Reed/International Surfing Association (ISA) 
Bungans' Holly Wawn is rising and rising in the surfing ranks, 2018 being a good steady year for the local surfer. After taking out the Vissla Great Lakes Propres. by D’Blanc at Boomerang Beach in February this year, placing a strong 5th in Grandstand Sports Clinic Women's Pro and in the top ten at Vissla Sydney Surf Pro, Holly has completed numerous events, surfed scores of heats and this week made an outstanding contribution as one of three women on the Australian team competing at the 2018 UR International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Games in Japan.

Team Captain Sally Fitzgibbons won Gold and is the 2018 Women's Champion, while Team Australia is coming back home as Silver Medallists, with host nation Japan securing the Teams Gold medal.

197 surfers from 42 of the world’s best National Surfing Teams gathered in Tahara, Japan this week for the 2018 Urban Research ISA World Surfing Games (WSG). The Opening Ceremony, featuring the ISA’s unique Parade of Nations and Sands of the World Ceremony, inaugurated the competition on September 15, setting the stage for these elite surfers to showcase their talent.

“This is my first time in Japan and I am excited to experience the beautiful surf culture that this country has to offer,” said Team Australia’s Sally Fitzgibbons at the beginning of the week. “Seeing all the other teams arrive creates a special energy. It makes me realise that this is bigger than just an individual performance.

“It is so motivating to come here and surf for my country. We are aiming for the Olympics, but also beyond that, trying to create a strong culture that will carry our team into the future.”



Spring In Pittwater

Red Bottlebrush, Callistemon, opening this week in Pittwater.

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