Close to 600 people discovered the $115m Wonthaggi Hospital Expansion (WHE) at the Community Open on Saturday 12 November.
Visitors travelled from across the region to tour inside the facility, which is due to open in December this year.
They saw inside the new expanded Emergency Department, with space for future capacity.
The tours also took in the spacious new Acute Ward with 32 beds and capacity for paediatrics in the longer-term, as well as the 3 new operating theatres plus an endoscopy procedure room.
Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child said the open day was a celebration of the amazing, modern facility that will be a game-changer in the delivery of healthcare in the region.
“Our staff and our community are so proud of this spectacular hospital expansion that will cater for not only the needs of today’s community, but also the future as our region grows,” she said.
“The hospital is future-proofed, which means we have the space to expand our services over time to bring even more healthcare offerings to the community, enabling more people to receive care close to home and not have to travel to Melbourne or the Latrobe Valley, away from their family and friends.
“The team at Bass Coast Health is confident the expanded hospital will encourage more healthcare workers to join our remarkable team and even relocate to the Bass Coast and be a part of our community.”
Visitors marvelled at the WHE, flabbergasted by its size and capability.
Shane Clements of Inverloch said, “This facility is state-of-the-art and it’s got everything that we need. We are just so lucky to have this building in Wonthaggi.”
San Remo Opportunity Shop Auxiliary member Caroline Talbot said, “It’s absolutely amazing and just overwhelming. To think that we have something like this.”
Dianne McCurry of Wonthaggi Rotary Club said, “It’s incredible, beyond my imagination. It’s world class. I did not believe that we would have a hospital of this level.”
Wonthaggi Rotary Club President Ray McCurry said, “It’s fantastic. We won’t have to send as many people to Melbourne to receive treatment anymore.”
The open day also featured a Smoking Ceremony (Welcome to Country), a huge Auxiliary fete, sausage sizzle and a live broadcast by radio station 3mFM.
“Thanks to our wonderful Auxiliary members for supporting the day and also to the Inverloch Men’s Shed for cooking the sausage sizzle,” Ms Child said.
The WHE was designed to be future-proofed and so some spaces will be used for their designated purpose in the coming months and years.
The move into the WHE will be staged, starting with the Emergency Department, Short Stay Unit and Radiology before Christmas. The Theatre and Acute Ward will move after Christmas.
“Acute medical and surgical patients will be cared for on the third floor of the new hospital until around mid-2023, when renovations to the medical ward in the existing hospital are expected to be completed,” Ms Child said.
“After this, surgical and medical patients will be cared for in separate wards: surgical patients in the WHE ward and medical patients, who are those patients with general illness, in the acute ward in the existing hospital.”
Relocating the Emergency Department will allow Sub-acute patients to move from Sleeman Ward in the existing hospital to Armitage House in late December. Until this time, the ED will remain in Armitage House and access will continue to be via Baillieu Street West.
The Emergency Department will have a separate entry next to main reception. A driveway will allow patients to be delivered straight to the door. Carparking will be available in the front carpark and seating available in the drop-off area.
“While we understand everyone is keen to use the new Emergency Department, it is yet to open and we have had people attempt to access it,” Ms Child said.
“For the time-being, people are asked to access the Emergency Department in Armitage House at the rear of the hospital, accessible via Baillieu Street West.”
Main reception to relocate
The main reception will move from the old hospital to the new hospital in December. The old reception will then be closed to the public and be renovated. Main reception and public entry to all services in the expanded and existing hospital will be via the new main entry in the new hospital.
Once in the new main reception, members of the public will be directed to where they want to go by staff and volunteers. Staff or volunteers will be on each level of the hospital to help people find their way. Signs will also assist.
Services in the existing hospital, such as pathology and maternity, will be accessible by entering the main reception within the new building, accessing the first floor via a lift, and then following the link down the corridor to the existing hospital.