Goulburn Mulwaree Council presses Hazzard over hospital parking

POPPING IN: Southern NSW Local Health District chairman Dr Allan Hawke and CEO Andrew Newton were in Goulburn on Wednesday for health awards.
POPPING IN: Southern NSW Local Health District chairman Dr Allan Hawke and CEO Andrew Newton were in Goulburn on Wednesday for health awards.

The council will again write to the State’s Health Minister urging him to commit an extra $20 million for a multi-level car park at the redeveloped Goulburn Base Hospital.

The most recent meeting heard that Health Minister Brad Hazzard had not responded to the council’s letter asking for the commitment. In May, councillors resolved to write to him, following concerns that parking was inadequate for the $120 million upgrade and into the future.

General manager Warwick Bennett said there had been no response, when asked by Cr Margaret O’Neill.

She urged him to write again.

Mr Bennett estimated the $20m cost based on 400 spaces, taking into account maximum parking demand figures supplied by Health infrastructure NSW.

He stressed the council did not want to hold up stage one, currently underway.

“(We will) work with Health Infrastructure and the State Government on this but we believe when stage two or future stages are being planned, that car parking facilities need to be addressed better than what they currently are,” Mr Bennett told The Post.

“I think there’s a significant parking issue around the hospital. When you combine that with the school traffic, cars from the aquatic centre and the activities at Victoria Park, I think there’s an issue that needs to be addressed.”

Southern NSW Local Health District CEO Andrew Newton said while the District welcomed all suggestions, it had not asked the State Government for more money for parking infrastructure or any other part of the hospital upgrade at this stage. 

“Should funding come through for any future stage redevelopment of the hospital, all of those services, including car parking, will be fully reassessed to determine what the needs are and we’ll engage with the council about that,” he said.

Meantime, he said Health was committed to ensuring there was adequate parking before, during and after construction work.

“We all have to appreciate there will always be disruption when construction work is happening but we have a traffic management plan with consultants. We’ll continue that engagement with the council and the community right through the project,” he told The Post.

Health Infrastructure representatives made a presentation to councillors on June 5 about parking provision during construction.

They outlined that the current 347 full-time equivalent staff, 102 beds and peak outpatient flow of 45 required 291 spaces. The upgraded hospital will employ 45 more staff, increase beds from 102 to 125 and result in a peak 65 outpatients daily, authorities estimate. Consequently, 53 more car parking spaces are factored into plans. There’s also reliance on off-site parking.

Health Infrastructure says this enough but the council is sceptical.

During construction, representatives also proposed that Clifford Street become one-way between Albert and Faithfull Streets. Albert Street, between Clifford and Goldsmith Streets, could also be one-way in the interests of “safety.”

Faithfull Street, between Clifford and Goldsmith Streets, would remain two-way but Health Infrastructure suggested a review on whether 90-degree parking on both sides was feasible. 

Mayor Bob Kirk said the next step was to collate the proposals in a format for community consultation.

”The most important thing is we want to see the hospital redevelopment happen so we have to understand there will be some disruption,” he said.

“It is about how to minimise the effect of that disruption. I think it’s doable and a matter of them engaging with those most affected. We need to have those discussions and they’ll deal with the staff.”

Project update

Mr Newton was in Goulburn on Wednesday for the SNSWLHD health awards. At the Mercure Motel function, hospital redevelopment project manager Kerry Hort gave a progress update.

Detailed design, deciding what every room would look like, had been underway for three months. 

“It’s been quite a huge job and we’re about to go to the third round of that in a few weeks and hopefully sign off on all of our plans at that point,” she said.

“The input and engagement of staff in this process has been amazing and each of the project user groups have fought hard for the space they’ve been given and wanted to make sure it was the best it could possibly be.”

Goulburn Base Hospital redevelopment project manager Kerry Hort updated attendants on progress at Wednesday's health awards, held at the Mercure Motel.

Goulburn Base Hospital redevelopment project manager Kerry Hort updated attendants on progress at Wednesday's health awards, held at the Mercure Motel.

“Enabling works” will be finished in November. This involves relocating mental health staff into an extension of the Community Health building, relocation of services, a maintenance workshop, medical records and ancillary sheds.

Since July, the Health District has been finding leased accommodation in the community to replace the 47 beds for staff in Lady Grose House. This structure and Springfield House, currently housing mental health, will be demolished to accommodate the new four-storey clinical services building.

Ms Hort said construction would start either late this year or early 2019, with the goal of finishing by the second half of 2020. The total project would be completed by mid-2021.

“The old hospital is pretty tired,” she said.

“Staff have done a fantastic job of managing. The original section was built in 1889 and we’re still using parts of the old building. It will be just fantastic to have this new space where patients can be cared for and I think the staff will enjoy working in it very, very much.”

Asked about future stages and funding, Mr Newton said stage one linked in with a Clinical Services Plan (CSP) which projected Goulburn and district’s needs for the next 10 years.

“Once we get through stage one, that’s time to refresh the CSP and that’s when we’d liaise with the various departments within government to be put on the list for any future investment for the Goulburn area,” he said.

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