More than 140 people attended community information sessions on plans for the new Shellharbour Hospital ahead of public feedback closing on Thursday (12 October).
The sessions, held at Stockland Shellharbour and the Links Golf Course, allowed the community to ask questions and learn more about the design and services that will be provided.
The project’s State Significant Development Planning Application (SSDA) was recently lodged with the Department of Planning and Environment and is on public exhibition until 12 October.
Once the SSDA is approved, construction work is expected to start on the Dunmore Road site next year. Early works to prepare the site are underway.
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District’s (ISLHD) Clinical Infrastructure Project Manager Albert Vasquez said feedback had been positive. He said the overall message from the community was just how keen they were to see the hospital completed.
“The reaction has been incredibly positive. People are happy to see the commencement of what has been a well overdue project, and most people are happy with the services that have been provided to the community,” he said at one of the Stocklands sessions.
Concerns were raised about the lack of birthing services in the new hospital.
However, a spokesperson for Health Infrastructure (HI), which oversees the construction of new health facilities, said birthing services would remain at Wollongong and Shoalhaven hospitals due to the specialist staff required for these services.
“Maternity services will be provided at the new Shellharbour Hospital for both pre- and post-birthing care on a daily basis,” the spokesperson said.
“These services will include midwifery-led clinics, doctor-led clinics, midwifery group practice (MGP) clinics, the establishment of an MGP in-home ante-natal and post-natal service both in-person and virtually, lactation support clinics, gynaecology clinics, women’s health physiotherapy and childbirth education classes.”
The new hospital will become ISLHD’s specialist elective surgery centre, operating in state-of-the-art theatres.
It will continue as the District’s centre for mental health inpatient care with expanded services and will feature a new drug and alcohol unit.
“It will be a fantastic opportunity for the community as it will allow the local health district to provide the services of a high volume, short stay surgery, and be the focus of surgery for this community,” Mr Vasquez said.
“The hospital will be a centrepiece for the district, with new services including drug and alcohol rehabilitation services, expanded rehabilitation aged care services and more high-level care.”
As part of the new Shellharbour Hospital and Integrated Services project, and in preparation for the eventual closure of the ageing Port Kembla Hospital, ISLHD and HI have expanded Bulli Hospital and transferred inpatient services, including rehabilitation and geriatric care, from Port Kembla to Bulli.
Work is underway on new rehabilitation and palliative care beds at Wollongong Hospital. When the work is completed, the specialist palliative care and rehabilitation services will be transferred from Bulli to Wollongong.
Once the new Shellharbour Hospital is commissioned, additional aged and rehabilitation beds will be available and a final Stage Three move will be made, providing local aged and rehabilitation services at the new hospital.
Detailed design plans for a new community health facility on a portion of the old Port Kembla Hospital site are close to completion.
To read the SSDA, or to make a submission, visit the project website.