Re­de­vel­oped hos­pi­tal off to a healthy start

Dubbo Photo News - - News. - BY JEN COW­LEY

IT’S been nearly ten years and more than $91 mil­lion in the mak­ing, but the of­fi­cial rib­bon on the first two stages of Dubbo’s much an­tic­i­pated hos­pi­tal re­de­vel­op­ment were cut this week, to the cheers of as­sem­bled staff, pa­tients and ded­i­cated mem­bers of the city’s Health Coun­cil.

The political big guns rolled into town for the oc­ca­sion, with Premier Mike Baird ac­com­pa­ny­ing his deputy and lo­cal mem­ber Troy Grant, Fed­eral Mem­ber for Parkes Mark Coul­ton and Health Min­is­ter Jil­lian Skin­ner for the of­fi­cial du­ties and a whirl­wind tour of the sta­teof-the-art fa­cil­ity.

The un­veil­ing of the plaque was a for­mal­ity and a chance to in­spect the build­ing and thank staff and all those in­volved in bring­ing the pro­ject to fruition.

How­ever, the doors of the im­pres­sive ad­di­tion to Dubbo’s hos­pi­tal have been open for some time, with staff and pa­tients hav­ing al­ready moved in to the clin­i­cal ser­vices build­ing, which fea­tures six new op­er­at­ing the­atres, an in­pa­tient ward, a birthing suite for ma­ter­nity ser­vices and a day-only ward for sur­gi­cal ser­vices.

The dig­ni­taries – and their staff and as­sem­bled me­dia scrum – were shown through the new fa­cil­ity, where they stopped to speak with staff and pa­tients.

In the ma­ter­nity sec­tion, young Alva Clarke – just two weeks old – was bliss­fully obliv­i­ous to the ker­fuf­fle, but his young mum, Sacha, good-na­turedly posed for pho­tos and an­swered ques­tions about be­ing among the first to take ad­van­tage of the brand new fa­cil­i­ties.

Af­ter the tour, the of­fi­cial open­ing cer­e­mony be­gan with a mov­ing Wel­come to Coun­try by Wi­rad­juri rep­re­sen­ta­tive and lan­guage ex­pert Di Mcnaboe, who was also in­stru­men­tal in mak­ing some of the stun­ning in­dige­nous art­works that adorn the walls of the new fa­cil­ity.

In wel­com­ing the re­de­vel­op­ment, build­ing of which be­gan four years ago, Mark Coul­ton – rep­re­sent­ing the fed­eral govern­ment, which con­trib­uted $7.1mil­lion to the pro­ject – said res­i­dents of western NSW feel­ing “more com­fort­able” in Dubbo, say­ing many would rather “put up with ill health than travel to Syd­ney”.

Coul­ton took the op­por­tu­nity to call for the ad­di­tion of a can­cer cen­tre for the hos­pi­tal, say­ing pre­lim­i­nary dis­cus­sions were un­der­way for what he says is an im­por­tant ser­vice for the peo­ple of the re­gion the hos­pi­tal serves.

A vis­i­bly pleased Troy Grant spoke of his “pride and grat­i­tude”, pay­ing trib­ute to those who had worked so hard to make the pro­ject a re­al­ity, in­clud­ing his pre­de­ces­sor as Mem­ber for Dubbo, Dawn Fardell, and the “ex­tra­or­di­nary” ef­forts of the Dubbo Health Coun­cil.

“It’s a re­mark­able day in the his­tory of the cen­tral west,” he said, adding that while Stages One and Two of the re­de­vel­op­ment were now al­most com­plete, work on the re­fur­bish­ment and ex­pan­sion of the re­nal unit would be­gin soon and is ex­pected to be com­plete by the end of this year.

Health Min­is­ter Jil­lian Skin­ner, said she was no stranger to Dubbo, af­ter first vis­it­ing the city’s hos­pi­tal when she be­came Shadow Health Min­is­ter in 1995.

“I knew then how badly this re­de­vel­op­ment was needed.”

By the time Premier Mike Baird took the mi­cro­phone, he ac­knowl­edged that most of what needed to be said had been said, but wanted to add his con­grat­u­la­tions and ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the doc­tors, nurses, health pro­fes­sion­als and other staff with­out whom the fa­cil­ity is just a build­ing.

“Lives will be saved here; ba­bies will be born here; ca­reers will be played out here.

“What’s most ex­cit­ing about this re­de­vel­op­ment is what it does for the won­der­ful staff that work here,” he said. “All of you do an in­cred­i­ble job, and what I see as our job is to give you the best pos­si­ble fa­cil­i­ties to sup­port the amaz­ing work you do.”

A mo­ment of lev­ity came with the Premier de­scrib­ing Troy Grant and Mark Coul­ton as the “Starsky and Hutch” of lo­cal pol­i­tics, for what he said was ex­tra­or­di­nary ded­i­ca­tion to com­mu­ni­ties in their shared patches of re­gional ground.

“I’m show­ing my age, aren’t I?” Baird said, to rip­ples of amuse­ment from the 100-strong crowd.

Two week old Alva Clarke wasn’t fussed by all the fuss, with his mum, Sacha, happy to pose for pics and an­swer ques­tions from the vis­it­ing dig­ni­taries.

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