Tumut’s new hospital is poised for its soft opening, with staff scheduled to move into the new premises by mid-November. The finishing touches are currently being put on the $50 million building, just over 12 months since the first slab pour.
That slab pour, which took place last August, is now the foundation for a dedicated health services hub, which is designed to help keep patients out of the ‘business end’ of the facility.
Tumut Hospital Facility Manager Katrina Walsh helped lead a tour of the new facility on Tuesday for members of the Local Health Advisory Committee, describing the Hub as a way to help the community – and medical staff – to “change the mindset from only coming to hospital when you’re sick.”
“There are so many options to keep you out of that end,” she said, pointing towards the emergency-focussed areas of the hospital.
Throughout the tour, LHAC members were overwhelmed by the size, atmosphere and amenity of the space.
“It’s very relaxing,” said LHAC Chair Hansie Armour as the group walked through hallways with muted, natural colours and windows overlooking some of the town’s best views.
“I think the ambiance is right.”
LHAC member Trina Thomson added her stamp of approval, comparing the space favourably to the new Wagga Base Hospital.
“This is just lovely,” she said, “The colours are beautiful.
“I am blown away by how big it is.”
The 24-bed hospital will have two fewer beds than the existing 26-bed hospital, but Ms Walsh said the space is more versatile and that managing a potential Covid outbreak would be much safer and easier in the new hospital than in the older building.
“We’re never at full capacity,” she said, explaining that the layout of the old hospital made it more difficult to utilise all 26 beds efficiently.
The main entrance to the building will currently be through the Lambie St parking lot, while landscaping and other outdoor works continue. Once it is complete, patients will enter through a landscaped courtyard, greeted by a wall of windows which open into a large reception area. Artwork for the area is still being commissioned, including around an enclosed children’s play area.
The reception area in the new building will also enjoy greater separation between patient intake and other administrative tasks, enabling a smoother check-in process.
To the right of the main entry is a new triage area, with interview rooms and emergency area connected to the ambulance bays. The emergency area also includes a pressurised isolation room which can be used to separate any potentially infectious patients from the rest of the hospital, and a fully-equipped resuscitation bay.
Further to the right, the 24-bed inpatient/birthing unit forms a large U-shape. A combination of single-bed and double-bed rooms make up the bulk of the space, finishing with a large birthing unit.
The birthing unit was complemented by LHAC members for its thoughtful design. Most of the equipment panels in the room can be hidden behind wood-grain panels, and a large birthing tub will soon sit in a corner of the room, beside a window.
“Everything is just so thoughtful,” said Councillor Cate Cross.
“It makes you feel like you’re at home, being able to look out and see a garden,” said Stan Russell.
“It shouldn’t be clinical unless it has to be,” agreed Ms Walsh.
Back towards the reception area sits a medical imaging unit, connected to a day surgery procedure suite which takes up most of the Lambie Street side of the property.
Along the Howick Street edge of the building sits the pathology lab and a workstation area for hospital workers, with a CovidSafe ‘hot-desk’ set up providing most of the office space in the building.
Completing the building is the Health Services Hub at the Howick/Simpson St corner of the hospital. It comprises oral health rooms, clinical space, a rehab area and renal/day med space.
The new building will also include a helipad once construction is completed, and an expanded carpark.