A group of 13 women evacuated from the Batlow during last week's fires are so pleased with their new temporary accommodation at Cootamundra Hospital that they laughingly called it a "holiday" yesterday.
The women, aged from 76 to 98, arrived in Cootamundra last Friday, January 3, after their accommodation at the Batlow Multi-Purpose Service (MPS) was threatened by the fire that has destroyed numerous homes in the town.
Facility Manager at Cootamundra Hospital, Jocelyn Piper, explained that Batlow MPS would once have been called a hospital, but has been renamed in view of the fact that it combines a nursing home in conjunction with an acute ward and an emergency department.
Earlier last week the Batlow MPS was in lock down, with no-one allowed to come or go.
"The wonderful staff there stayed on with the residents, then it got to the point where the MPS needed to be evacuated," she said.
The Murrumbidgee Local Health District worked hard to arrange alternative accommodation and emergency patient transport vehicles to bring the ladies here to Cootamundra," she said.
"Three nurses from Batlow accompanied the ladies, so that they had some continuity of carers, and Batlow staff continue to come to Coota on a rolling basis to keep familiar faces here," she said.
Given that the women are from a nursing home they don't need urgent medical care, but are in need of day-to-day care which they are receiving in spades in Coota.
Ms Piper said the local community had been absolutely fantastic in welcoming the ladies here, coming to help nurses and just sit and chat, as well as donating all kinds of goodies.
"They've brought things like clothing, food, fruit platters, chocolates, flowers, books and magazines, personal items and toiletries.
"One of the residents needs help with feeding, and given that theyve been relocated and it's all foreign to them we've actually had a member of the community who comes in three times a day to assist with feeding one of the residents, it's amazing, it really is - lovely to see."
Power has now been restored to Batlow, and the roads are open, but given that weather conditions are far from ideal it will be at least next week before the women can return to the Batlow MPS.
A MLHD spokesperson said the group could only be returned after the facility had been assessed for safety.
Nursing staff said the welcome extended by Cootamundra visitors had been "absolutely amazing".
"They've washed the women's clothes, and one visitor brought embroidered face washers - she's going home to make some more and putting their initials on them."