Pambula Hospital prepares for refurbishment

PLANS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Nurse Tracey Keeley and nurse manager Kelly Jurd hold the plans for the refurbishment of Pambula Hospital.
PLANS FOR IMPROVEMENT: Nurse Tracey Keeley and nurse manager Kelly Jurd hold the plans for the refurbishment of Pambula Hospital.

The Southern NSW Local Health District (LHD) is expected to go out to tender very soon for $1.6 million of refurbishment work for Pambula Hospital in the first of what hospital advocates hope is a three stage program.

The tender follows a busy winter with hospital beds at capacity. 

Nurse manager Kelly Jurd said the hospital has been at capacity over winter with 14 inpatient beds constantly filled. Ms Jurd said the beds were occupied by local patients who had been treated at South East Regional Hospital and Canberra hospitals but were not well enough to be sent home.

She is excited about the refurbishments and believes once completed they will make a big difference, offering the chance for specialists to provide consultations at Pambula. 

Much wanted consulting rooms will be included so that visiting specialists and other health professionals can meet with patients at Pambula instead of patients always having to travel to the regional hospital at Bega.  

A spokesman for the LHD said that in addition to the additional spaces for health professional consultations the nurse-led Assessment, Triage and Care Centre (ATCC) area would undergo improvements.

“This area will be renovated, and a redesign of the entrance will provide improved access for patients and people attending community based programs.

“The refurbishment also includes a gym with equipment which will be available for both inpatient and community programs and will support the existing respiratory and cardiac rehabilitation programs,” the spokesman said.

Planning for these building works has been in progress for almost a year with a planning group of building experts, staff and community members having been vital to the process” said a spokesperson for the Bega Valley Health Service. “Tender documents are expected to ‘go to market’ imminently”.

A long term plan for Pambula Hospital was developed with consultation and support from the southern communities of the Bega Valley Shire two years ago by the Pambula Health Service Community Engagement Committee (PHSCEC).  The committee recommended several refurbishment stages for Pambula Hospital. 

PHSCEC continues to meet and chairman Les Stahl said the committee is still “very interested in hearing from members of the community about their needs from the public health services”. 

In particular Mr Stahl said the committee wanted to hear the community’s views on pain management and whether specialist sessions would be helpful.

Take our poll

Pain can limit people’s ability to socialise. Chronic pain can seriously limit quality of life.  As people age, arthritis and other conditions can make the activities of daily living much harder to bear. Programs like Pilates, Tai Chi, strength training etc along with medical guidance can be of real assistance.

What the Southern NSW Local Health District said

The first stage of the refurbishment involves additional spaces for health professional consultations and community based programs in the Nurse-led Assessment, Triage and Care Centre area.

The Assessment, Triage and Care space will be renovated, and a redesign of the entrance will provide improved access for patients and people attending community based programs.

The refurbishment also includes an exercise room which will be available for both inpatient and community programs and will support the existing Respiratory and Cardiac Rehabilitation Programs. The aim being where possible, to enable community members to remain in their own homes and not in hospital.

The aim is to start work before the busy summer period, prioritising the schedule for initial works to help patient comfort and flow through the facility.

In summary:

 A larger and more comfortable, family friendly waiting area

 Improved access to treatment spaces where specialist consultants can see patients

 Greater privacy and confidentiality for patients attending consultations

 Access to a purpose built physiotherapy gym

 Two bedrooms with disabled access bathrooms will allow more comfortable care for Pambula patients

 More amenable treatment chairs for patients undergoing transfusion.

Other stages still need funding

Save Our Hospital Inc (SOHI) has welcomed the news that stage one of Pambula Hospital refurbishments will go ahead, but president Sharon Tapscott remains concerned about the future of the facility.

“While it is satisfying to see the Local Health District (LHD) finally commence refurbishment works, only Stage 1 has received funding,” Ms Tapscott said.

“Refurbishment of the whole facility will not be achievable with the funding allocated and the community is very concerned that the government has not yet earmarked funding for Stages 2 and beyond for Pambula Hospital,” Ms Tapscott said.

“But we remain confident that the recommendations as accepted by the LHD board will continue to enjoy the support from the government in the form of the funding necessary to complete the agreed vision,” she added.