A BEVY of dignitaries gathered to enjoy celebratory morning tea and officially open the Bellinger River District Hospital sub acute services on Thursday.
With construction complete, the new Nationals candidate for Oxley and parliamentary secretary for Regional and Rural Health, Melinda Pavey MLC, joined mayor Mark Troy, the Coffs Harbour Health Campus general manager Theresa Beswick and chief executive of the Mid North Coast Local Health District, Stewart Dowrick to congratulate those responsible for bringing about the $5.3 million project.
Ms Pavey said Bellingen was an excellent location to deliver long-term rehabilitation services in conjunction with the\ acute care already provided.
“This is the largest capital investment Bellingen River District Hospital has seen for many years. The sub acute services have substantially enhanced the role this hospital\ plays in improving the health of both local and Coffs Harbour region residents requiring rehabilitation and palliative care,” Ms Pavey said.
“I commend the Mid North Coast Local Health District which has worked closely with the medical advisory group, nursing and allied health staff as well as ensuring community representatives were kept informed throughout the\ process.
“I commend these local connections - they’re community champions. This is a day about Bellingen, this is an example where Bellingen sent a clear message to your members and they responded. A very clear message, from stickers at the back of your cars, you said that you wanted your hospital to be refreshed, to be refurbished, to have a very big place in the heart of this community going forward. This is a central part of the Mid North Coast health district; congratulations to all the community.”
The funding was co-funded through the NSW Government and the Australian Government. Building works began in late 2012, with the finished facilities providing eight sub-acute rehabilitation beds and six palliative care beds.
Works completed also include a gym, dining area and training kitchen.
Cr Troy said it had been a long campaign from near hospital closure to now first rate community hospital facilities and gave particular mention to the work of local groups.
“This is a proud day in the long proud history of the Bellingen Hospital and on behalf on our community thanks for all those who campaigned for this outcome,” Cr Troy said.
“The expansion and improvements have created certainty, increased employment opportunities, and the state-of-the-art upgrades cement the hospital’s place in the wider regional network.”
Ms Beswick said the new services would improve the experience for local residents.
“This is a fantastic building and a beautiful environment that is conductive to the care we can provide to the patients and their families often in difficult times,” Ms Beswick said. “This is more than a building; it is a new clinical service to deliver specialised rehabilitation to patients. The service will provide care to people from Bellingen Macksville, Coffs Harbour and Dorrigo.”
Already operational, the sub acute service has kicked some impressive goals; 75 per cent of patients have been able to return home after receiving hospital rehabilitation.
Mr Dowrick noted Bellingen Hospital was incredibly lucky to attract a talented range of heath care professionals.
“When you look around tomorrow, next week, next year and into the future, this hospital had great staff, has great staff and services and continues to attract a capable and gifted range of health providers,” Mr Dowrick said.
The formalities were finished with Ms Pavey cutting a ceremonial ribbon and honorary guest Alex Floyd gifting a Wollombi pine tree.
Mr Floyd is responsible for working with the town’s historic luminary, Dr George Hewitt, to create the unique botanical grounds which skirt the hospital.