Ex-hotel becomes mental health hub

The rundown and under-performing Rydges Hotel site has been transformed into a premium private mental health facility set to open this month.

Illawarra psychiatrists have been involved in planning the facility which will offer general psychiatry and treatment for anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol issues, bipolar disorder and people with post traumatic stress disorder.

Doctors will be able to refer and admit patients to the mental health facility, while the Wollongong Clinic will allow doctors to remain on site to deliver out-patient consultations and treatment.

Plans were announced in 2011 to turn the Burelli Street hotel into a 90-bed private psychiatric hospital after Evolution Health Care bought the property with the help of the Illawarra Regional Innovation Investment Fund.

Evolution Health Care managing director Ben Thynne said yesterday that admission to the "general psychiatric" facility would be voluntarily for people considered "not high-end acute".

"The service is for people who admit themselves ... they may be going through a bad period in their life, many would be seeing doctors already and are having an acute episode," Mr Thynne said.

"Their doctors can admit them, then they are medicated and supported by registered mental health nurses," he said.

Six senior doctors in the region had already confirmed they would relocate to the facility.

"Doctors are over the moon about this facility, we're pretty excited," Mr Thynne said.

"What they've had to do in the past is send patients to hospital in Sydney, then hand them over to a doctor they've never seen before; they lose that relationship."

Mr Thynne said once patients leave the facility which would encourage "healthy mind and healthy eating", they can follow up with day programs.

Wollongong MP Noreen Hay said at the time the mental health hub represented an exciting milestone for the region.

"The demand is certainly there with 25 psychiatrists practising in the Illawarra," Ms Hay said.

There will be 80 additional jobs for the Illawarra in operating the the facility, which features 70 luxury rooms, 20 of which can be doubles, a dining room, kitchen, lounge areas, secure undercover parking, 12 psychiatric suites, a gymnasium and on-site pathology service.

An interim medical advisory committee has been established to facilitate interaction between Evolution and interested mental health professionals.

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