Hospital upgrade goes to council

WORK will soon start on the Grafton Base Hospital upgrade after the proposed designs were lodged with council yesterday.

The public will get its first look at the multi-million dollar upgrade when the designs go on public display next week.

The upgrade involves the construction of new operating theatres and a new emergency department.

North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) has been busy developing the plans, after receiving $19.2 million from the Federal Government in last year's budget.

Yesterday, Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, was in Grafton to witness the lodgement of a development application to upgrade the operating theatres.

In what must be a first for council, Clarence Valley Mayor Richie Williamson was there in person to receive the DA from NCAHS chief executive Chris Crawford.

Cr Williamson said the lodgement of the completed design was a momentous occasion for the region and the result of a lot of hard work by many dedicated and persistent people.

Ms Saffin said it had been a long fight to get to this stage, but the project was on track and slated for completion by the end of next year.

“The community has asked us many times when it is going to happen and this is the start of something happening,” Ms Saffin said.

After being promised $18m for the project, Ms Saffin recently managed to secure another $1.2m when she requested the interest on that money go to the project.

The new surgical ward will include two operating theatres, a procedure room and a first and second stage recovery and post-operation lounge.

Medical Staff Council chairman Allan Tyson has been involved in every stage of the development. He said the new operating theatres would be a vast improvement on existing facilities, with improved conditions for both staff and patients.

The emergency department will feature a new main entry, triage and dedicated ambulance bay; two resuscitation bays; 10 treatment bays; a dedicated paediatric treatment room, and an isolation room.

Mr Crawford said he was confident the project would come in within budget, saying the operating theatres were estimated to cost $14m, while the emergency department would cost about $6m.

The plans will be on display at the hospital, Grafton Shoppingworld, and Clarence Valley Council offices in Maclean and Grafton.

NSW Health is also planning a community presentation that will take residents on a computer-generated virtual tour of the redeveloped hospital.

The development would happen in stages and disruption to emergency and surgical services at the hospital would be minimal, Dr Tyson said.

Mr Crawford said the need for the hospital to continue its services throughout the upgrade had been considered at all stages of its design.

Technical inspections of the site have been done and preliminary site works will begin next month.

The tender for the construction work will be awarded in September.

Council is expected to make a decision on the DA in the next month. Ms Saffin said it would be a brave council to knock it back, but Cr Williamson said the application would have to go through usual council processes

The emergency department doesn't need council approval because it will be built within existing floor space.



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