Redeveloped hospital off to a healthy start
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.