Redevelopment for Shepparton’s new multi-million dollar hospital is set to begin before the end of the month.
Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy was in Shepparton last week to announce Sydney-based company Lendlease would do the $168.5million rebuild.
The Victorian Government-funded redevelopment will create a new four-storey tower with 64 in-patient beds, 10 intensive care unit beds, seven operating theatres and a new kitchen and morgue.
A brand new emergency department will double its current capacity and there will be a new women’s and children’s unit.
Funding to retain the children’s ward’s 12 beds has also been secured in a bid to send fewer children to Melbourne for treatment.
Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy said more work still needed to be done to address the lack of cancer services in the region, despite securing funding for a multi-million redevelopment of Shepparton’s Goulburn Valley Health.
Ms Hennessy said the Victorian Government had introduced a four-year cancer plan that would provide a framework to improve cancer outcomes for regional Victoria.
‘‘We absolutely do think we need to do a better job in delivering cancer services right across regional Victoria, but particularly in this region,’’ Ms Hennessy said.
‘‘The provision of cancer services isn’t just about the building, it’s about getting the workforce, it’s about looking at what types of cancers, how do you get the right specialists to come in.
‘‘We need to do more, but we also need to make sure that we make it sustainable and don’t have second-rate cancer services.’’
State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed said the facility only strengthened the case for a specialist cancer treatment centre and added she would continue to advocate for the service.
Ms Sheed said she believed the region was close to proving it had the demographic requirements and population to justify a cancer centre, as well as develop medical services in town.
‘‘We’ll be looking for funding to really try and redevelop a medical precinct in town, as well as redevelop the hospital here,’’ Ms Sheed said.
Goulburn Valley Health infrastructure executive director Sandy Chamberlain said early works would centre around enablement, although there would be service disruption and different access points for patients and staff.
‘‘In the next two years, post-enabling works, we’ll see a tower coming out of the ground, we see a doubling of our emergency department, and we’ll see a new renal dialysis treatment space, so there’ll be exciting parts of the build,’’ Ms Chamberlain said.
‘‘We’ve made sure the staging does not reduce treatment spaces, or any number of beds at any stage during the building.’’
The project requirements have aimed to use local services and employment, and Lendlease has committed to engaging Aboriginal employees as part of the region’s Algabonyah Employment Partnerships Program.
Ms Hennessy said the refurbishment of the hospital would be completed by 2020. It will create an additional 140 construction jobs in the meantime.
‘‘For a long time, people have been advocating for a larger health service here at Shepparton, and today here we’ve turned the first sod,’’ Ms Hennessy said.
‘‘I hope that those who are looking at Shepparton as a place to live feel comforted by the healthcare services that are available and make the move, because that’s how we want to keep the economies in our big regional cities alive.’’