BASS Coast Health officially opened its cancer centre yesterday (Monday, February 22).
It is the first in a series of projects the hospital will deliver to the community.
“At 8.30am, we had our first patient through the door,” Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child said.
“It is a beautiful centre. We are just stoked with it.”
The centre was funded by the federal government and the hospital will receive recurrent funds from the state government to run the service.
The furnishings, fittings and equipment were funded by the hospital auxiliaries, as well as an extremely generous $850,000 donation from a local benefactor.
Oncologists and haematologists from the Alfred Hospital have been instrumental in training the local team at Bass Coast Health.
“We are very excited. This is the culmination of three years of planning and work,” Ms Child said.
“We are working to organise dates for an official opening so we can thank our amazing auxiliaries and donors. There has been an extraordinary amount of community support.”
Bass Coast Health’s next step is the Wonthaggi Hospital expansion project – which Kane Constructions was contracted for, along with local contractors.
Excavation and demolition on the site began in the first week of January.
Contractors are working towards building the road along the Rose Lodge fence line to allow easier access for emergency services and ease traffic disruptions throughout the projects.
The state government has allocated $2.4 million to renovate Armitage House.
The renovation will go out to tender for a local builder with works set to begin in March.
Residents will be moved into the newly refurbished Sleeman Ward while Armitage House is closed.
The renovation is slated to be finished by September.
The federal government gave the hospital just over $1 million to renovate the Sleeman Ward, which is being used as an inpatient ward.
A further $1 million from the state government will go towards renovations at Griffiths Point Lodge in San Remo.
This will go ahead later in the year so residents can be moved to Armitage House while works are underway.
“If COVID-19 is still rampant, we need to move our vulnerable patients to have builders there,” Ms Child said.
“It’s a lot of manoeuvring, but we will continue to offer quality care safely.”
The hospital expansion will allow Bass Coast Health to continue increasing its capabilities.
This project will include four theatres, an emergency department four times its current size and bigger maternity suites.
The project is progressing on time and on budget.
“We have also continued to work on our model of care to fit the new world. In the last year, we have been able to see and keep more patients locally,” Ms Child said.
“We are training our staff to treat higher acuity patients by bringing in specialists and through telemedicine. We are growing our staff with more emergency department specialists and critical care nurses. We are investing our dollars into having more doctors in the wards and junior medical staff on site.”
A key focus for Bass Coast Health is to grow its women’s services.
This will allow women with minor risk issues to birth at the Wonthaggi Hospital.
The hospital will be recruiting a number of obstetricians, so more women can be seen locally, and extra services can be provided.
“We have enormously skilled GPs who play a key part in our women’s health services. They will be working with the (recruited obstetricians). People can expect a whole lot of changes in our services for women,” Ms Child said.
“These services are not just for older women who may have a higher risk birth. They are for young people too, particularly for teen pregnancies. We also have a high breast cancer rate, so we can provide preventative screening services and get on top of it quicker.”
In Phillip Island, Bass Coast Health has completed the feasibility plan for the hospital.
The next step is the detailed design.
Ms Child said she hoped the hospital would be up and running by 2024.
While all these exciting plans have been unfolding, Bass Coast Health has been the designated COVID-19 hospital in Wonthaggi.
A registered testing tent is located outside the facility.
Ms Child said hospital staff underwent a lot of prep work to ensure safety at the hospital.
These measures included checking air flow issues throughout the hospital to ensure there was no capacity for transmission and regular deep cleaning of the whole facility.
“COVID-19 has been a big focus. Everyone is fatigued but this is the way of our world, at least for another 12 months, but we have plans moving forward,” Ms Child said.