IT’S going to be big, very big. The $115 million expansion and modernisation of the Wonthaggi Hospital, to start later this year, will be huge.
As explained by Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child, the footprint of the new emergency department (ED), operating theatres and 32-bed acute ward will be 6927m2, more than 11 times the size of a typical house building block.
That’s big.
And it’s going to beautiful too with all the state-of-the-art technical services you’d expect to see in a sub-regional hospital.
Speaking to the Sentinel-Times this week, Ms Child said 2019 would be a crucial development year for the health service and she promised there would be ample opportunity for community input.
“We already have a community focus group working with us on what is being planned but we’ll also be taking it to the community at several information sessions in the first half of this year with a more detailed plan to go out to the community later in the year.
“There’s going to be plenty of opportunity for community involvement and right through the year, we’re going to keep everyone informed about the developments.”
Prior to the State Election, Bass Coast Health and the Department of Health and Human Services officials went through the selection process with all the consultants and architects who expressed an interest in the work.
And by late January, the project team will be appointed.
“Early in February we’ll be sitting down with that group and reviewing the masterplan and making some of the changes we’ve already identified, including bringing the building forward a few metres.
“There’s still a lot of planning to be done, especially inside, but we would expect to start site preparation works later this year, probably in September.”
Part of that “site preparation” will include the demolition of some buildings including the old nursing home, the colourful history of which was recently celebrated at the Wonthaggi and District Historical Society’s annual meeting.
The new work will be sited to the left of the front entrance to the hospital (see blue section in diagram) with a brand-new, bells-and-whistles Emergency Department on the ground floor facing the carpark.
There’ll also be a new carpark on the ground floor of the new building with three new operating theatres on the first floor, a central sterilising and services department and a 32-bed acute ward also on the first floor.
And they’re already planning Stage II which will involve building in that undercover carpark space with further hospital services.
“It’s a big project so it’s going to take a couple of years to build but the important thing is we expect to make a start on the site preparation works later in the year,” Ms Child said.
“A fair bit of the work at the moment involves planning what services we want inside the hospital, how that might look and how it will be accommodated.”
It’s already been a big year for Bass Coast Health, with the opening of the Minor Illness and Injury Clinic (MIIC) at the Phillip Island Health Hub, 50 Church Street, Cowes, ahead of schedule.
“We’ve already had 875 patients since December 21,” Ms Child said on Wednesday last week, so it’s bound to have easily topped the 1000 mark by now.
“We’ve been working closely with the Cowes Medical Centre and they’ve been quite happy how it’s running. Obviously, we wouldn’t want to affect their business and we’ll be reviewing the situation as we go forward.”
The MIIC, soon to be upgraded to an Urgent Care Centre, has been welcomed by the community of Phillip Island and puts their calls for a hospital on the Island on the backburner for now with more effort being directed to the Wonthaggi Hospital project which is at its most crucial stage of planning.