The $62.9 million redevelopment of Sutherland Hospital, opened by Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday, provides much more than a new and larger emergency department.
While the lighter and brighter emergency department (ED) is the core element, the two-storey building at the front of the hospital, facing Kingsway, also houses an expanded critical care medical unit (intensive care unit) and new general medical and surgical units.
Senior medical staff said the upgrade would improve patient flow, enhance medical care and lift the spirits of patients and staff.
The project almost completes a total rebuild of the hospital in the last 14 years.
The main building was replaced at a cost of $83 million in 2003.
At that time, the ED was comparatively new, and was not included in the redevelopment.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said at Friday’s opening, combined with the new critical care block at St George Hospital, which opened in October, “residents in this area are really getting world class facilities”.
Ms Berejiklian said two women she met as she entered the new building had brought their mothers to the hospital, and were full of praise for the new facilities.
”Just to see what this means to people who have known and loved this hospital for a long time is such a boost,” she said.
Ms Berejiklian said a new imaging section would be constructed in the area that previously housed the emergency department, and it would be finished at the end of next year or early 2019.
One of the features of the new ED is a separate children’s area, where the staff includes two paediatric nurses 24 hours a day.
In another part of the ED is a short-stay unit, providing targeted care for patients who generally can be discharged within 24 hours after treatment, observation and assessment.
Tracey Millie, nurse unit manager in the expanded critical care medical unit, said the new facilities were “excellent”, and would be “great for the patients”.
”We have brand new state-of-the-art equipment, single rooms for all patients and computer systems at bedsides,” she said.
“We previously had shared bed paces and old rooms in need of redevelopment.
“The new rooms are light and bright, which will be particularly good for long term patients.”
Norman Costa, of Caringbah, was among the first patients to be moved into the new general medical ward, Warada.
“I came here straight from a cruise boat, and was quite unwell,” Mr Costa said.
“Gastroenteritis went through the ship and I was on the end of a pretty nasty bug.
”The staff have looked after me wonderfully.”
Pamela Jagger, nurse unit manager in Warada, said, “The facilities are fantastic, and the patients are able to be treated and recover in a a well resourced unit”.
Cronulla MP and Mark Speakman said the need for the upgrade was brought to his attention by doctors and administrators soon after he was elected in 2011.
”It has been a hard slog for five years,” he said.
“The announcement in 2014 the project would be funded was a huge breakthrough, and, since then, it’s really been a matter of implementation.
“It’s on time and on, or under, budget.
”It’s just so spacious and light.
“I think that nice ambiance must uplift the patients and boost staff morale as well. so i think it’s a wonderful facility work in.
“Not that I want to be sick, but, if I was, this would be the place to go.”
Associate Professor Peter Gosnski, the director of aged care for Sutherland Hospital and the local health district, and a member of the district board, said doctors had begin campaigning for the upgrade seven years ago.
”It was a bit slow at the beginning but i think everyone was fairly convinced Sutherland Hospital was busy enough to require the extra beds,” he said.
”We always had extra people staying ion the ED, waiting for [ward] beds.
“Although we have a very significant plan, firstly to stop people coming into hospital and, secondly, to get them out as quickly as possible, we still have bed block.
“This is what this upgrade was all about – to try and relieve bed block.”
Dr Gonski said the new facilities were “fantastic”.
”We were really having great problem with the [old] facilities,” he said.
A campaign started by doctors seven years ago to upgrade the emergency department at Sutherland Hospital came to fruition on Friday when Premier Gladys Berejiklian opened a new $62.9 million building.
The redevelopment includes not just a new and much larger emergency department, including a short stay unit, but also a new general medical unit, general surgical inpatient unit, critical care unit and a 140-space ground level car park.
The new building, which adjoins the main entrance facing Kingsway, became operational a week ago.
Ms Berejiklian, along with Health Minister Brad Hazzard and shire MPs, inspected the new facilities and spoke to staff and patients before speeches in front of about 150 people in the car park.
The lightness and brightness of the new building drew many comments and staff said they were getting tremendous feedback from patients.
Ms Berejiklian said she understood how important the development was for shire residents.
“It shows what can be achieved when a government works with communities,” she said.
“I can’t tell you how wonderful it felt as I was walking into the front entrance to have two ladies tell me of the experience they had only yesterday when they had to bring their mothers into the hospital.”
Ms Berejiklian thanked the staff.
“We know that bricks and mortar is one thing, but making sure we have the amazing staff to support the patients and their families is just outstanding,” she said.
Ms Berejiklian also thanked the volunteers, including Shirley Chirgwin, who has been helping out at the hospital for 52 years.
Ms Chirgwin was invited on stage to help unveil a plaque.
More to come