Bass Coast Health’s community spirit


The team spirit of Bass Coast Health (BCH) staff shone through when Wonthaggi Hospital was impacted by scheduled power outages on Tuesday 2 August.

The outages – early in the morning and afternoon – were held to enable changeover from our very old main switchboard to a new switchboard, all part of the Wonthaggi Hospital Expansion (WHE) project.

The new switchboard will have greater capacity and provide more reliability and stability for our electricity supply, bringing contemporary plant and equipment including new and additional generators.

Staff volunteered for a variety of roles during the outages with some staff sitting with Kirrak House residents and with patients in Acute Ward and the Emergency Department to ameliorate the risk of limited lighting and no call bells. Others stood by main doors to assist people entering and exiting the Wonthaggi site because automated doors didn’t work.

Others were located in hallways with lighting to ensure the health service remained safe for all. We had many runners facilitating communication across the site, and other staff made sure food and coffee was available, not just to our patients but for our staff who arrived from 5.30am to set up.

BCH CEO Jan Child was touched by the generous community spirit shown by staff.

“Our staff are so proud to serve their community through their regular work and were only too quick to put up their hand when asked to assist on what was a massive day for our health service,” she said.

“Their extra support and assistance to our patients and residents, and also to their colleagues made sure we had every risk covered, and every support on hand during the outages.

“The care of our patients and residents remained paramount. They received extra blankets to keep them warm and received their continued care with people holding torches where necessary. Even though our regular electronic nurse calling system was not available during the outage, nursing staff were alerted to patients and residents’ needs by the extra staff we had on board.”

The outages required a significant amount of preparation by many staff to ensure everything went as smoothly as possible, and with only some reduction in services for that day, the outages went as expected.

Small generators supplied power to some essential services, such as parts of the Emergency Department and our Acute Ward, however these small temporary generators were not able to supply all areas on the day and critical areas such as ED were prioritised.

“This is such a huge occasion for the Wonthaggi Hospital site. We now have the best plant and infrastructure supporting our electrical services into the Wonthaggi site,” Ms Child said.

“In days past, we often had outages during inclement weather, and were reliant on a very old generator to keep our services upright. As we know, there have been a few occasions when this old generator failed. We now have several bigger and better generators, and have infrastructure that will ensure we can withstand the elements and keep our services fully operational. This is many millions of dollars spent in the best possible way and we are stoked to have such improvement in our core infrastructure.”