THE Wonthaggi Hospital is seeking $10 million to kick-start works on a new emergency department.
And that’s not to renovate the existing one, consisting of a waiting room with no more than a dozen seats.
It’s to build a ground-level emergency department from scratch on a grass area to the left of the roundabout entrance.
It’ll stop patients having to run up and down flights of stairs, and worse, manoeuvre electric scooters around a tight corner on the ramp.
“We’ve seen people get stuck at that corner,” Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child said.
“Our job is to treat people.”
On Tuesday, Bass MP Brian Paynter and State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy visited the hospital to hear pleas from hospital officials on the need for a new emergency department (ED).
The hospital treats, on average, 50 people a day in the ED.
During summer, it jumps to around 100 people and on busy days including Australia Day, patients can be found sitting on the floor in the corridor near the ED.
“We’ve only got six cubicles, and six cubicles for 100 patients doesn’t work,” Ms Child said.
“We just don’t have a big enough emergency department.”
The hospital is at its limits and while Ms Child maintained the hospital continues to deliver great care, she said $10 million is a “really good start” for a new ED.
After the tedious stairs, the ED is about 50 metres out from the main entrance, whereas most hospitals have the ED at the front of the building.
“If people are really unwell, like they’ve had a car accident or they have a broken leg, they’ve got to get up here [the stairs] or walk up this silly ramp,” Ms Child said.
“We need a bigger one anyway because we are growing, it just makes sense.”
Mr Paynter said the visit was about raising the profile of the hospital within government departments.
“There’s only so many dollars which are being spent,” he said.
“I don’t see that enough people are talking about the needs of Wonthaggi. But it is Bass Coast too.”
Mr Guy acknowledged the hospital couldn’t fund the project itself and said the State Government needed to pay attention to the hospital.
“What’s clear is the government is spending a fortune on operating services in Melbourne, but ignoring towns like Wonthaggi,” he said.
“The government could certainly provide some initial monies to help improve access to the hospital.”
But there we no election promises from the Liberals to fund the new ED if they were elected next year.
The hospital will appoint consultants for the Wonthaggi Hospital Master Plan, to include upgrades to the ED, within the next two to three weeks.
It’s expected the consultants will present up to six options to Bass Coast Health on redesigning the hospital.
The master plan should be completed by March, giving political parties plenty of time to consider funding commitments before the State Election in November.
Bill relief for hospital
THE Wonthaggi Hospital will be hit with almost $500,000 in electricity bills this year.
It’s a 79 per cent increase from last year when its power bills totalled $280,000.
The staggering increase is the result of a contract signed in July.
The organisation which helps create deals between hospitals and electricity companies, Health Purchasing Victoria, said the increase was the result of higher retail charges and more people tapping into the electricity grid.
But the State Government says it’ll drive down energy costs with a new $3.9 million program for Gippsland hospitals to boost solar power supplies.
On Tuesday, Finance Minister Robin Scott, Health Minister Jill Hennessy and Eastern Victoria Minister Harriet Shing announced the solar package through the Greener Government Buildings program.
The upgrades are estimated to save Victorian hospitals more than $70 million over the life of the investments, and cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20,000 tonnes each year.
Eastern Victoria MP Harriet Shing said the State Government will continue working with Gippsland hospitals to address cost challenges.
“But we have a continued commitment to giving Gippsland people access to quality health services close to home.”
The State Government says it’ll analyse energy use to determine the hospitals with optimum specifications for solar panels.
After the health services are identified, they’ll be eligible for loans to install solar panels.
They will also have the opportunity to bulk-buy solar panels through Health Purchasing Victoria.
Finance Minister Robin Scott said the program is a win-win, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, creating jobs and saving money.
Where was Harriet?
EASTERN Victoria MP Harriet Shing was missing in action last Tuesday from her own press conference.
After State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy announced he would be at the Wonthaggi Hospital to discuss a new emergency department and access to the hospital, Ms Shing announced she would be holding a press conference on funding for solar panels.
At around 11.30am, Ms Shing’s office said she would be at the hospital at 3.30pm.
At around 1.30pm, a joint press release was sent out from Finance Minister Robin Scott, Health Minister Jill Hennessy and Ms Shing.
At 3.30pm, local press awaited the minister’s arrival alongside hospital officials, including Bass Coast Health Chair Don Paproth and CEO Jan Child.
After 20 minutes, a hospital staff member called her office, who called a communications officer.
The press conference had been cancelled at the last minute, without telling local press or the hospital.