The prosthetics unit, located in a “dungeon-like” basement at St Luke’s Hospital, is in “a very dire state” and something must be done to improve the premises, according to Amy Camilleri Zahra of support group Amputees 4 Amputees.
A rehabilitation hospital ought to have specialised units to deal with the particular needs of certain patient groups
She said the group’s members had been working towards having adequate premises for amputee rehabilitation, including physiotherapy, and an adequate orthotics and prosthetics unit, where prostheses are made.
“We hope that both units will be in very close proximity to each other in order to have continuation of care and because they are highly related,” she said.
“You have to understand that, once an amputation occurs, you will have to attend the OPU for the rest of your life.”
A spokesman for the Health Ministry said: “Plans are under way. However, I can’t give any details as yet because they are not finalised.”
Ms Camilleri Zahra had both legs and her fingertips amputated after she contracted the deadly blood disease meningococcal septicaemia about six years ago.
Today, she is fighting for the rights of amputees as president of A4A and works as an assistant manager within the National Council Persons with Disability.
Earlier this month, patients with spinal cord injuries said they felt that the rehabilitation offered in Malta was not specialised enough to help them cope with life after a devastating accident.
The former spinal unit at Sir Paul Boffa Hospital was closed down and spinal cord injuries were moved to be treated within the neuro rehabilitation unit, which deals with various conditions, at Karen Grech Hospital. The hospital also handles geriatric cases.
The subject of rehabilitation is somewhat of a political hot potato at the moment, with controversy over the purchase of St Philip’s Hospital to be converted into a rehabilitation hospital.
“We are not really interested in the controversy. We are interested in having adequate premises for amputees so that the healthcare professionals can continue with their work in premises that do justice to the people who have already been through a trauma,” said Ms Camilleri Zahra.
She believes a rehabilitation hospital ought to have specialised units to deal with particular needs of certain patient groups, such as amputees or spinal cord patients.
“Rehabilitation prepares you for integration into community life and cannot be done if it falls under the umbrella of geriatrics.
“Furthermore, rehabilitation requires a holistic approach with the right people helping you in gaining back your independence and return to the community, employment, etc, including adequate psychological help to deal with the trauma, trained social workers and trained nurses in such specialised care.”
It was important to consult service users and health professionals before any important changes were made, she added.