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Twenty-odd years ago, John Ekin hosted an event at his Leura guesthouse to help raise funds to build the hydrotherapy pool at Katoomba hospital.
Now, he fears his days at the pool are numbered because of a bureaucratic reorganisation.
Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District confirmed that existing patrons were being assessed by physiotherapists “to prescribe the exercise program which best suits the patient’s needs”.
“This may include clinically-supervised hydrotherapy or other programs such as land-based exercise or unsupervised exercise at home.
“We have also identified other services which may better assist our clients, for example the pain clinic or falls prevention classes.”
But Mr Ekin said these were not appropriate for many pool users.
“One poor old darling who could hardly walk was told to do pilates. She was in tears.”
Mr Ekin has been a regular user of the pool since he had two knee replacements. The exercises in the warm water have kept him mobile, he said.
Likewise Gai Sheridan. She has a spinal condition and fasciitis in her feet so is unable to do land-based exercise. She was referred to the pool by her heart specialist.
“What we can’t understand is what the plan is. They haven’t been forthcoming with us.”
She said some had been directed to Katoomba indoor pool but the temperature is much colder and it is often full of lap swimmers and learn-to-swim classes.
Mr Ekin said the community helped build the pool and should not be excluded from using it.
“As an original fundraiser … for a hydrotherapy pool in Katoomba to service community needs, I am appalled that NSW Health seems to believe that those in the community who are aged, infirm and physically incapacitated no longer need the benefits of hydrotherapy to make their life a little more bearable.”
Blue Mountains MP, Trish Doyle, said she had been contacted by at least 30 people concerned that they will no longer be able to use the pool.
She had written repeatedly to the hospital’s general manager, Andrea Williams, and the CEO of Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, Kay Hyman.
In her latest response, Mrs Williams wrote that “the hydrotherapy program has been reviewed to ensure all clients are receiving the appropriate treatment”.
She acknowledged that some people “may be disappointed”.
Ms Doyle said: “I find it frustrating because I’ve been advocating for these people for more than two years. We’re in limbo.”