‘What is saved from closing the pool, will be spent in the emergency room’ was the resounding message at Monday night’s meeting of hydrotherapy pool user groups.
Joints and Muscle support group co-founder Jane Mulloy said residents were told to self manage their pain and conditions, but without the pool they could not do that and would end up needing more care from the hospital.
Those gathered signed petitions and were giving the numbers and addresses of politicians to contact about the issue.
Inge Husz, 91, said she had been using the 25-year-old hydrotherapy pool since it was built, and before that the pool at Smollett Street.
She said the hydrotherapy helps her stay mobile with arthritis but since the pool closed she’s been in pain.
“I just don’t think it’s fair,” Mrs Husz said.
“People talk about how older people should be keeping active but they take it away.
“Goodness I don’t think I’d still be walking [without hydrotherapy], that’s for sure.”
JAM president John McFarlane said now the pool has closed hundreds of people were living in pain.
Mr McFarlane said while more than 100 people attended the Monday night meeting, about 550 JAM members alone had used the pool in February and March, paying a total of $3350.
“Everyone is in pain,” he said.
“I know my knees are starting to really feel affected.”
Coordinator of the Water Action Group Society Joseph Maccioni said the groups 100 members each pay $6 per use of the pool, with other users also paying a fee.
“We contribute to the facility every time we use it – we’re not a blight,” he said.
Mr Maccioni said many of the pool users he’d spoken to were willing to increase payments if it meant the facility would reopen.
Albury-Wodonga Health chief executive Leigh McJames previously told The Border Mail, between $50,0000 to $100,000 would be needed to upgrade the pool to standard.
He said no decision had been made on whether the pool would be reopened, with a new hydrotherapy pool planned for Wodonga in three to five years.
Mr Maccioni, Ms Mulloy and many at the meeting, believe it is not good enough to wait until the new pool is open, with alternative pools in the region unsuitable.
“We need the pool, we can’t wait years in pain,” Ms Mulloy said.
Mr Maccioni said confusion had reigned since the pool closed with users initially believed the closure was caused by a maintenance issue, before Albury-Wodonga Health revealed the pool did not comply with disinfection standards.
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