Illawarra hospitals planned with eye to future

ISLHD chair Denis King, illawarra-Shoalhaven Medicare Local CEO Dianne Kitcher, infrastructure chief Sam Sangster and Rod Young of IRT. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

ISLHD chair Denis King, illawarra-Shoalhaven Medicare Local CEO Dianne Kitcher, infrastructure chief Sam Sangster and Rod Young of IRT. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Health Infrastructure chief executive Sam Sangster is tasked with building world-class hospitals across the state, and he's got his work cut out for him in the Illawarra.

Mr Sangster is responsible for more than $200 million of major works in the region - including the $106 million redevelopment of Wollongong Hospital and the $27.8 million car park expansion.

On Thursday the chief executive was one of four panellists at a Property Council of Australia event which looked at the health infrastructure "revolution" taking place in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven.

"Hospitals are often thought about as social infrastructure, but they make a strong economic contribution to regions too," Mr Sangster said.

"For instance in this region we have more than $200 million worth of health infrastructure projects under way, which have created some 2100 jobs both directly and indirectly."

Mr Sangster said that planning and constructing hospitals and health facilities that catered for the present, and future, needs of communities was key.

"All the health buildings we build today will exist for 40 or 50 years or more," he said.

"We rely on the local health district's clinical services plan, which will forecast the needs of the community for 10, 20 years at most.

"The trick is making the buildings as flexible and dynamic as possible to meet those changing needs."

For instance, the multi-storey car park to be built next to Wollongong Hospital will be designed to take the weight of further storeys if required.

"There's no idea we're not considering," Mr Sangster said. "We're always looking at how to future-proof these spaces so we are building for tomorrow."

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District board chairman Denis King, Illawarra-Shoalhaven Medicare Local CEO Dianne Kitcher and IRT government relations advisor Rod Young were also on the panel.

Professor King said the works in progress were helping the health district achieve its vision of a "hub and spoke" model of healthcare, with Wollongong, Shellharbour and Shoalhaven the major hubs.

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