MEMBER for Bass Jordan Crugnale told an excited crowd, assembled for the opening of two new maternity suites at the Wonthaggi hospital last week that the State Government would not ignore a community that was prepared to help itself.
The recently elected MP was referring to the fact that the Department of Health and Human Services had only agreed to stump up an additional $100,000 for the suites, on top of the State Government’s commitment of $115 million for a major hospital rebuild last April, because the community had supported the project in spades.
“We’ve talked about the Ladies Hospital Auxiliary and the San Remo Op Shop and how they’ve raised $60,000 between them for this project. They asked us to come and join them. How can you not?” Ms Crugnale said.
As well as celebrating the opening of the rooms, the day also honoured the memory of a pioneer of community services in Wonthaggi, especially health and women’s services, Agnes Chambers, after whom the maternity wing is named.
“There are a number of names synonymous with this hospital over the years, including Dr Sleeman who died in 1968 the day the coal mines closed and Agnes Chambers who started the maternity ward and was a guiding light and stalwart of the ward; a very forthright and determined lady I’m told,” said Bass Coast Health Chair Don Paproth.
He also said Wonthaggi had been designated as a sub-regional hospital and would continue to see an upgrade in services and facilities, bringing it into line with others in the region including Sale, Bairnsdale and Warragul.
Granddaughter of Mrs Chambers, Ruth Glare, also spoke about Granny Chambers and her legacy.
“I was here at the opening of the maternity wing (25th November 1944), standing with my granny and being petrified about the idea that someone might see me and take my tonsils out.”
Mrs Glare said her grandmother had a knack for bringing community groups together to achieve their goals whether it was a comfort station for mothers to change their babies, a library, kinder, state school improvements and of course, maternity services for a burgeoning region.
Health service CEO, Jan Child, said Wonthaggi had Level 3 accreditation for maternity services but was aiming to get to Level 4, including intensive care, obstetrician and Pediatrician on staff and other improvements by the time it opened an eight-bed maternity ward, as part of the hospital rebuild, in two years’ time.
New maternity suites sign of things to come