Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Health Service (CKAHS) staff were in for a shock when they came into work on Monday last week as parts of the ceiling had collapsed overnight.
Strong winds and rain on Sunday evening created a water blockage in the system which caused roof tiles to collapse in two places.
This included a portion of ceiling over a workstation where at least three workers are based.
CKAHS chief executive officer Zell Dodd said staff had no choice but to evacuate that day while the damaged was assessed, with some consulting services relocated to Ceduna District Health Services (CDHS).
Country Health SA executive director of corporate services Brett Paradine said the building was immediately repaired and deemed safe.
“The community controlled Ceduna Koonibba Aboriginal Health Service (CKAHS) GP consulting services and visiting eye health team were relocated to the Ceduna District Health Services on Monday due to storm damage,” he said.
“Country Health SA (CHSA) immediately called in a builder and electrician to ensure the CKAHS building was deemed safe for use.
“The building is now considered electrically safe and the roof is stable. Damaged ceiling tiles have been replaced, while an additional down pipe was installed to assist with roof run-off.”
CKAHS chairperson Leeroy Bilney said the service was now dealing with mould caused by the rainfall.
He said the mould had already affected staff with respiratory problems.
“Due to this risk, we have had to close the administration section of our building while we await mould testing to determine if treatment to affected areas has resolved the issue,” he said.
“In the short term we have approximately 22 staff displaced for at least one week while this occurs.
“I am concerned for our community members, employees, patients and visitors – if we can’t provide a safe environment, despite the determinations in attempting to get a new building, we fail to deliver optimal service and this is not fair to out Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
It continues a difficult period for CKAHS, with a portion of the building condemned and not in use which has put strain on the remaining office space.
Member for Flinders Peter Treloar expressed concern over the state of the building last year and said CKAHS had been actively lobbying at a state and federal level for some time over the condition of the building.
Since 2012 Country Health SA has provided $150,000 for repair and maintenance work.
“Country Health is working with CKAHS to develop future plans for the service and the premises,” he said.
“CKAHS provides vital health services to the Ceduna area, and we will continue to work in partnership with the federal government to ensure this continues.”
Ms Dodd said the health service had been working for a long time to get the building upgraded and the condemned section repaired.
“We now live in fear knowing that another downpour of rain or another storm will do the same, despite Country Health doing the best they can,” she said.
“What I am deeply concerned about is when, and not if, we get rain, in what part of the building will it hit next.
“I have already met with key state government officers where we are working solidly in a bid to find a solution to the immediate and longer term future – it’s pretty clear and as a matter of public interest we cannot operate, expand and provide the much-needed services, including bringing in fly-in fly-out specialists and Allied Health professionals, for the people we serve, if we don’t get a new building soon.”
She said if the doors were to close for a long period then CDHS would not be able to take on the additional load.
Mr Paradine said an alternative location may need to be sourced.
“Since 2012 we have funded around $150,000 towards maintenance and repair of the CKAHS building,” he said.
“CHSA is in discussions with CKAHS and will support them to identify alternative properties in the Ceduna region.”