After being in the planning stages for more than a decade, the Master Plan for the $438 million expansion of the Shoalhaven District Hospital has been revealed on Tuesday, with work on the project expected to begin early 2022.
The Project Master Plan provides details on key features of the redevelopment, including the new acute care services building which will connect to the existing hospital. The existing site will undergo refurbishments to allow for new and expanded services.
According to the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, the hospital is being developed to suit the region's growing and ageing population, adding that by 2031, the Shoalhaven catchment is forecast to grow 12 per cent, with significantly faster population growth in the 70+ age groups.
The Master Plan is said to guide the final design of the hospital and the scope of the new and expanded services, including:
- a new cardiology inpatient ward, close observation unit and cardiac catheterisation laboratory
- a new Emergency Department to increase emergency care capacity
- a new Intensive Care Unit and state-of-the-art ward
- MRI service, nuclear medicine department and interventional radiology
- two new medical wards and expanded outpatient clinics
- additional operating theatres, new overnight surgical ward, and a dedicated day surgery zone
- a new acute mental health ward
- a new maternity clinic and Midwifery Group Practice
- a new paediatric unit
- aged care ward with more beds and expanded outpatient clinics.
Health Infrastructure and Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District are on track to begin work on the project early next year.
As part of the Master Plan the southern end of Nowra Park will be retained as greenspace, with the large blackbutt tree, which is significant to the community, to be kept.
South Coast MP Shelley Hancock welcomed the plans on Tuesday.
"Shoalhaven residents will have a significantly larger hospital precinct with enhanced health services close to home so they won't have to leave the region for the majority of their treatment and care," said Mrs Hancock.
"In addition to fantastic new facilities such as cardiology, mental health and aged care wards, more operating theatres and a new emergency department, there will also be greater access to more specialised staff, equipment and technology."
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said bringing the developments to regional communities like Shoalhaven would improve health outcomes and is a "key focus" for the NSW Government.
"This $438 million Shoalhaven Hospital Redevelopment will provide enormous benefits to locals who will have easy access to some of the best health services and specialists in the state," said Mr Hazzard.
The subject of community meetings, the $438 million expansion of the Shoalhaven District Hospital has been debated with many pushing for an entirely new hospital to be built on a greenfields site.
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District CEO Margot Mains said during a public meeting in March that the relocating the hospital to a new more centralised, greenfield site would have "significantly" increased the cost of the project.
A strong advocate for building a hospital on a greenfields site, Shoalhaven councillor and nurse Nina Digiglio said she is still disappointed other sites did not get an opportunity to be considered.
"I was really hoping that we could engage the community more. There were still other sites we could have investigated as a potential greensfield site," she said in response to the project plans revealed on Tuesday.
"It feels like we skipped a whole process in the project plan. We didn't get to rule out sites and discuss the reasons."
While the new plans include a new nuclear medicine department delivering MRI imaging and an acute stroke unit, Cr Digiglio added that a bigger stroke unit should have been included.
"The Gilmore electorate has the fifth highest strokes recorded nationally," said Cr Digiglio.
"We wanted a bigger Stroke Unit and a neurological department, there are over 700 people with Parkinson's disease and there's people with Multiple Sclerosis and Huntington's.
"We need to attract a neurologist to the area, because patients are going to Wollongong."
A summary of the Clinical Services Plan has been released online, but GP in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven Tim Bailey said a plan should have been released to the public earlier.
"How has it taken this long? The CEO said in March that the clinical services plan was complete," said Dr Bailey.
"A clinical services plan is really comprehensive look at the population and their health consumption data. And that is what you need before you make a master plan for a hospital.
"It's just shocking."
For more information visit www.ISLHD.health.nsw.gov.au
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