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Chairs to be replaced in children's cancer ward after father raises concerns

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Dilapidated chairs in the cancer ward of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital will be replaced, following concerns from a father they pose a “potential for infection”.

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David Kayser, whose 15-year-old daughter Mabelle is undergoing treatment for a rare type of bone cancer, has written to the Health Minister and Premier over the state of the chairs after twice raising concerns with the hospital.

He told InDaily he first raised the matter in July and asked for the chair to be removed from his daughter’s room in the Michael Rice Centre cancer ward.

He did the same again last week after finding another chair in a similar condition in his daughter’s room.

“I’m concerned about the potential for infection in immune-compromised patients,” he told InDaily.

“You could not physically clean the chairs if you tried.

“Is this the level of maintenance that’s going to be on the old Women’s and Kids for the next six years before the new one is built?

“Or are they actually going to maintain and upkeep the old one?”

The chairs are used for family members visiting sick children.

Mabelle Kayser, 15, who is receiving treatment at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital for a rare bone cancer.
Photo: supplied.

In a statement, the hospital’s Medical Unit Head for Paediatric Haematology and Oncology, Dr Ben Saxon, said “we are in the process of replacing some chairs in the Michael Rice Unit due to wear and tear”.

“The chairs do not pose an infection control risk to our patients,” he said.

“The equipment, including chemotherapy chairs, used in our hospital is regularly reviewed and prioritised for replacement based on clinical risk and end of life date.

“Delivering safe and quality care to the women, babies, children and young people of South Australia is our number one priority.”

Kayser said when he first raised the issue in July, the chair was removed from his daughter’s room.

He was concerned to see a chair in similar disrepair in his daughter’s room again last week.

“I don’t understand how the people who run that place can’t then go ‘that’s unacceptable, we need to look around and make sure there’s no others like this’,” he said.

“The first time around the ward head nurse she actually said… ‘do you want me to put a sheet over it or something?’ How that’s an acceptable resolution, I don’t know.

“The first one was removed because we asked for it to be removed. The second was also removed because we asked for it to be removed but I guess the bigger question is how many others are around the place?”

Mabelle has been undergoing treatment at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital since being diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in January.

Her parents have previously spoken out about what they believe is a lack of resources and “substandard” care for children with cancer at the hospital.

They have raised concerns about bed shortages, overworked nurses and delays in chemotherapy treatments.

Other families and doctors have also raised concerns.

In his letter sent to Premier Steven Marshall and Health Minister Stephen Wade last week, seen by InDaily, Kayser asks: “Can you please advise why our immune compromised children in the Michael Rice (Cancer) Ward of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital should be in rooms with furniture that is an infection control risk?

“There is no way that these chairs can be adequately cleaned.”

Kayser also raised the issue with Opposition health spokesperson Chris Picton who said the chairs “look like something from a third world hospital – not a hospital we say should be ‘world class’”.

A spokesperson for Premier Steven Marshall said “as soon as being made aware of this issue, the Premier raised these concerns with the Health Minister”.

“Health have advised that these chairs pose no risk in terms of infection control and they are in the process of being replaced,” the spokesperson said.

“The Marshall Liberal Government has committed an extra $50 million in capital sustainment funding for the Women’s and Children’s Hospital to make sure it’s in the best shape it can be before the $1.95 billion New Women’s and Children’s Hospital is built.”

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