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Man languishes in spinal unit

Paraplegic Jarrad Quinn with his mother Jude and stepfather Derek Laird.
Paraplegic Jarrad Quinn with his mother Jude and stepfather Derek Laird. Warren Lynam

JARRAD Quinn knows he will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. State Government bungling means he has also now spent 112 days longer than necessary in the Princess Alexandra Spinal Unit.

Rather than fund modifications to his mother and stepfather's Woombye home, the government has left the 36-year-old former carpenter in limbo in a hospital bed that costs taxpayers more than $1000 a day.

"The first three months alone would have paid for the minor home modifications to allow me to leave hospital a long time ago,'' Mr Quinn said.

When he is released on weekends to give him respite, his bed takes up the entire lounge room of his parents' modest home.

MR Quinn has to be taken outside and showered in the garden because his wheelchair does not fit into the bathroom.

Hospital and Disability Service officers assessed the home his mother Jude and stepfather Derek Laird share and drew up plans for a bedroom-bathroom which was to be built in the back yard.

Council approved the plans and builders' insurance was obtained.

Then things started to go wrong.

Jude said that on September 28 they were told by Spinal Cord Injury Response - a government multi-department program meant to ensure timely discharge and rehabilitation - that a structure separated from the main dwelling was outside the guidelines.

They were further told that Disabilities Services Queensland would fund the project.

After repeatedly chasing a start date for the project they were eventually told the commitment was only to seek funding, something Derek and Jude both dispute.

Late yesterday, in response to questions from the Sunshine Coast Daily, Disability Services Minister Curtis Pitt said arrangements to house Mr Quinn in modified accommodation at his parents' property were close to being finalised.

"We've been working closely with Mr Quinn's family on renovation designs and these are now complete,'' Mr Pitt said.

"While this hasn't been a straightforward case, final approval to provide supported accommodation for Mr Quinn at his parents' property is expected within days.

"As we move towards creating a National Disability Insurance Scheme, we need to ensure there is more flexibility to support individual needs and circumstances.''

Mr Quinn has been suffering severe depression as his life hangs in limbo.

"I'm over it,'' he said of hospital.

"I'm depressed. I'm the second longest in the spinal unit.

"It's a depressing place.

"I want to start rehab.''

Member for Nicklin Peter Wellington said he had taken the case directly to Mr Pitt two months ago but received no response.

Sunshine Coast disability advocate Peter Yeo, who is president of the PointZero5 Spinal Campaign, said the situation was shameful and an appalling breach of promise.

Mr Yeo said patients desperate to access the PA Spinal Unit and its facilities were locked out because all beds were full.

Topics:  princess alexandra hospital



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