THE answer to Goulburn’s health woes could lie in a slab of land at Bradfordville.
The father-daughter duo behind a planned multi-million dollar health precinct believe its services can ease pressure on an already overrun Goulburn Base Hospital.
Dozers and excavators have already ploughed through an estimated 18,000 square metres of land since Council gave Wal and Sophie Ashton approval to commence work on a state-of-the-art health hub in Bradfordville.
Planners recently approved a modified DA for the site.
The first stage of the development – priced at $5 million – includes 10 GP rooms, a three theatre dentistry, pharmacy, allied health centre, rehabilitation gymnasium, hydrotherapy pool, audiology clinic, three psychology suites, pathology services and a café.
Ms Ashton hopes stage one will be complete by early 2016.
It will precede an $8 million second stage comprising a three-theatre day surgery, radiology services and a specialist centre.
The entire project is earmarked for a 2018 finish and once in full swing, could ease the burden on the accident and emergency department at Goulburn Base Hospital.
The Bradfordville hub’s ability to perform minor surgeries and attend to non-urgent patients will extend the existing Goulburn Base Hospital’s life-span, Ms Ashton believes.
“Our aim would be to work with Goulburn Base. As it is, they can’t cope with waiting lists like, for example, eye surgery,” she explained.
“Cataracts is a straightforward procedure, but it changes someone’s life.
“We don’t want to compete with their emergency department, but if we can tend to people with grazes or non-urgent matters, that’s a win. We’ll have good nurses and a well-equipped surgery.”
Her comments come amid debate over the best course of action for Goulburn Base – a hospital partly run out of a building more than a century old.
Some, including Goulburn MP Pru Goward, believe the hospital needs to be brought into the 21st century at its existing location.
Others, including obstetrician Dr Sujon Purkayastha, believe the existing hospital is beyond repair. They argue an entirely new facility, valued at tens-of-millions of dollars, is the only answer.
The Ashtons’ argument is music to both parties’ ears.
The developers believe they can raise enough capital to turn their dream into a reality.
“We’re looking for extra investors to help us build this up,” Ms Ashton continued.
“Health’s an attractive investment opportunity these days. It’s secure and it’s not going anywhere.
“We’d really like the hub to be a prototype for what health can be in the future for regional areas.”
Her father, Wal, admitted he was relieved to be finally pressing ahead with the centre after nearly two years’ back-and-forth negotiations with Goulburn Mulwaree Council planners.
“That the doors open outwards instead of in,” Mr Ashton, tongue firmly in cheek, said when asked what had changed since the original plans were originally lodged in eary 2013.
“It was a slow, pedantic process,” he said.