THE first sod has been turned for the $4.83 million Nowra GP Super Clinic.
It is hoped the state-of-the-art primary health facility, which will be known as The Grand Pacific Health Centre, will be completed by the end of the year and opened in early 2015.
The sod-turning ceremony was staged on the site of the facility at Scenic Drive, between the Shoalhaven Hospital and the South Coast Cancer Care Centre.
Grand Pacific Health chairperson Dr Vicki McCartney was joined by Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash, South Coast MP Shelley Hancock, deputy chairperson of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District Jill Boehm and local Aboriginal elder Aunty Jean Carter.
Dr McCartney said it was an exciting day.
“We have worked very hard with several levels of government. We’ve had to deal with the federal government for funding, the state government for the land. The local health district has been a great supporter in being prepared to work with us to find a spot that gives us great access to the hospital and for the community to have access for a variety of services,” Dr McCartney said.
“It will be a multi-disciplinary clinic, meaning it will have general practitioners doing primary health care, practice nurses, physios, exercise physiologists and dieticians so we can look after the chronic care needs of our community.
“It will also be used to teach. We’ve got great partnerships with the University of Wollongong and Coast City Country which is the GP training scheme. So we will have students and registrars here who will be getting a taste of a country general practice style but in multi-disciplinary, high-quality care.”
She said the next generation of GPs needed to be enticed to the region.
“We need to show them how terrific it is here but also the professional opportunity and progress they can make within their careers,” she said.
Dr McCartney said the super clinic would have the potential to take the pressure off the Shoalhaven Hospital’s emergency department.
“We are working closely with the hospital to try to get the best arrangement,” she said.
“There will be after-hours care provided through the clinic and there are many GPs in the area who are happy to come and work after hours to provide that service.”
Shoalhaven Mayor Joanna Gash said the clinic would provide vital services.
“This came into being while I was still the federal member, so I’m excited to see it happen,” she said.
“The community wanted it to happen.
“It’s central, easy to get here, easy to park; all those essentials are here to make it a success.
“It took a long time to secure the location.
“I know there is some anxiety in the community about the location but this is a medical precinct and we have to look at the heads as far as the community is concerned.
“Some people didn’t want it in the park, same as the cancer centre, but we have to forget those
issues and look at the needs of the community.”