New private hospital open by 2015

An artist's impression of Wollongong Private Hospital, which will offer a full range of services.
An artist's impression of Wollongong Private Hospital, which will offer a full range of services.

Figtree Private Hospital is likely to become a rehabilitation facility when operator Ramsay Health Care establishes a new 149-bed private hospital in Wollongong.

Wollongong Private Hospital, set to open in October 2015, will lease 4½ floors of the eight-storey $90 million medical precinct being built by AA Crown Holdings near Wollongong's public hospital.

Figtree Private Hospital chief executive David Crowe said the new private hospital would offer a full range of medical, surgical and maternity services.

These would include a critical care unit, nine operating theatres, a cardiac catheter laboratory and a day oncology unit.

"We will be moving all the services from Figtree to Wollongong as well as increasing the size of the hospital by an extra 48 beds," Mr Crowe said.

"We will also be expanding our services to provide all modalities of treatment including oncology as well as cardio-thoracic surgery, which at the moment patients have to go to Sydney for.

"This will negate the requirement for many Illawarra patients to go to Sydney for surgery as they will have the best facilities here in Wollongong."

Mr Crowe said Figtree Private Hospital's 350 staff members would relocate to the Wollongong hospital, while an additional 200 jobs would be created.

"We will need approximately 100 more nursing staff and 100 more support staff as we are effectively doubling our theatre size," he said.

"With the additional theatre time available, we will also be able to offer more work to new surgeons, and we are working closely with the university to encourage and recruit new doctors to come to the area."

Mr Crowe said Wollongong Private Hospital would set a new benchmark in private hospital facilities for Wollongong.

"As well it will feature state-of-the-art integrated theatres which will integrate all modalities of technology so surgeons have the most up-to-date equipment," he said.

Ramsay Health Care chief executive officer Chris Rex said that with the lease of the Figtree Private Hospital site expiring in 2015, the company had been investigating options for the future delivery of private health services in the region.

"Figtree Private Hospital has provided an excellent service to the community over many years but the expansion of Figtree, with its ageing infrastructure and in its current location approximately five kilometres from Wollongong's medical hub, was not ideal," Mr Rex said.

"We are looking forward to providing a new hospital to the specialist doctors and staff who have been working with us at Figtree."

Mr Crowe, who has worked at the hospital for 18 years said he was excited to be making the move.

"Figtree Private Hospital turns 34 next month and there's only so much more we could do with the current building - this will give us room to move and grow," he said.

"Plus a move to the CBD makes sense and there's a lot of synergies with being so close to the public hospital - most other Ramsay hospitals are co-located with a public hospital.

"Ramsay is still in negotiations with the current landlord at Figtree but it's likely that the company will continue to lease the site and develop rehabilitation facilities there."

Mr Crowe said Ramsay had been in discussions with high-profile Wollongong vascular surgeon Arthur Stanton, of AA Crown Holdings, for about 12 months.

Dr Stanton's development, already approved by the NSW Department of Planning, will also house 4000 square metres of medical suites, diagnostic services, primary health care services and substantial car parking in a three-level subterranean car park.

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