The master plan for the future of the Shoalhaven District Hospital precinct has been revealed.
For the past couple of months Kiama and South Coast MPs Gareth Ward and Shelley Hancock have been ‘talking’ about the said master plan, but nothing had been officially released.
That changed on Monday at the sod turning to mark the start of work on the hospital’s proposed new $10.8 million multi-deck car park, where the master plan was also revealed.
While nothing is in concrete, and there is further detailed planning to be undertaken, the plan has revealed a possible blueprint for the site into the future up to 2027.
It takes into account the types of services the community might need into the future.
Both Mr Ward and Mrs Hancock have strongly endorsed a major upgrade of the Shoalhaven District Hospital, mooted to cost between $300 and $400 million.
“The 2018-19 state budget included $15 million to progress planning for a number of projects including the Shoalhaven District Hospital upgrade,” Mr Ward said.
“This will support the detailed planning required to consider the future requirements for the Shoalhaven community and what investment may be required at Shoalhaven Hospital.
“As part of planning for the car park upgrade, the hospital has undertaken master planning for the entire hospital site to ensure any future hospital enhancements and expansion on the campus will not be compromised.
“This master planning is an essential part of informing how best to respond to the health service needs of the Shoalhaven community.”
Mr Ward said the funding in the budget was “an historic win for the Shoalhaven” with the “government agreeing to undertake detailed planning for a major upgrade of Shoalhaven Hospital.”
Shoalhaven Hospital is no longer a cottage hospital. We need a modern hospital that not only services the needs of our community but has the facilities that staff are attracted to and are proud to work in.Kiama MP Gareth Ward.
“That’s great, but my focus is to continue the push for more beds - surgical and medical - that’s what I’m asking for,” Mr Ward said.
“It’s what the nurses and doctors on the front line tell me they need.
“The Labor Party stood out the front of Shoalhaven Hospital on Monday and couldn’t even get the figures right - a major upgrade of the hospital is around $430 million, not just $43m.
“They stood there with large fanfare but committed to do nothing. They talked about the needs but not what they would do.
“How do Labor have any credibility on this issue?”
Mr Ward said he has spoken directly to the health minister, saying Shoalhaven Hospital was “no longer a cottage hospital.”
“We need a modern hospital that not only services the needs of our community but has the facilities that staff are attracted to and are proud to work in,” he said.
“This of course is subject to detailed planning and the direction the government is likely to go.
“Now we have to start the campaign to secure the funding.
“The Shoalhaven is one of the fastest growing regions outside of Sydney and it is vital we take action to prepare our local hospital to meet future demand as well as support its hard working doctors, nurses and staff.”
He said the government had invested $50 million already into the hospital over recent years including the reconfiguration and expansion of the Emergency Department, the addition of a dedicated Endoscopy Suite, refurbishment of Medical Ward B to provide a purpose-designed Aged Care Unit and construction of the Shoalhaven Cancer Care Centre and Sub-Acute Mental Health Unit.
Mr Ward has started a petition on his Facebook page – https://haveyoursay.garethwardmp.com.au/upgrade_of_shoalhaven_hospital – to gain support for the hospital upgrade.
“My job now is to get money that is needed and we need the community to get on board,” he said.
What the Shoalhaven Hospital precinct might look like
Although no official statement about the master plan has been made, the “long term zonal master plan” shows a number of proposed changes to the precinct.
It includes the possible relocation of the recently upgraded and expanded emergency department from adjacent to the main hospital entrance on Scenic Drive to the eastern side of the complex with an entrance off Shoalhaven Street. It includes ambulance bays.
The site of the former ED is marked as healthcare and complements functions.
An ED intervention unit/rehab is highlighted along with an inpatients unit (IPU).
There is a proposed mental health expansion to complement the current Mental Health Sub Acute Unit.
As well as the new $10.8m multi-deck car park, an area described as Ambulatory Centre, understood to be for rehabilitation, is also on the plan.
A staff accommodation area is also marked at the rear of the South Coast Cancer Care Centre adjacent to the patient accomodation area.
Locals who have long voiced concerns over any future hospital expansion and if the historic Nowra Park area would be further eroded, appears negated with the park appearing to remain in its current form.
It even appears the helipad, located on the northern end of the park might be moved, with an artist’s impression showing the helipad relocated to roof of one of the new buildings.
The plan shows new buildings could go right up to the southern boundary of the complete the upgrade.