Subsidised accommodation for patients, carers, friends and relatives at the South East Regional Hospital site is quickly becoming a reality.
Community Carers Accommodation South East (CCASE) committee members, donors and onlookers visited the site on Thursday morning to celebrate the start of construction.
Stage one of the three stage project will see the construction of six units, estimated to accommodate 1750 overnight stays each year.
CCASE president Lynne Koerbin said the final construction certificate from council was the “trigger” for the ceremony.
“We were really keen to get it moving by Christmas, because we owe it to the community who has really supported us throughout,” she said.
“It feels the planning has taken a long time, but you need to invest in your planning to make sure everything runs smoothly.”
Ms Koerbin said patients unable to drive home immediately after surgery will make up the bulk of those staying overnight.
“The hospital has such a large catchment area and we have an above average number of older people in the region,” she said.
Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash was unable to attend the ceremonial turning of the first sod, with federal cabinet secretary Arthur Sinodinos attending in her absence.
“The local community is the heart and soul of it,” the Patron Senator for Eden-Monaro said.
In December 2015, the federal government contributed $450,000 via the dollar-for-dollar National Stronger Regions Fund, which has now been rebranded the Building Better Regions Fund.
Mr Sinodinos said hospital issues such as staffing levels and state government funding are being discussed at a federal level.
“I intend to keep a bit of an eye on the place to make sure things are going well,” he said.
A large contribution of $250,000 from Bega Cheese has also helped kickstart the $901,000 project.
Bendigo Bank, EC Blomfield Holdings, Bega, Tathra and Pambula-Merimbula Lions Clubs, Bega, Pambula and Merimbula Rotaries, the Eden Lionesses, and the Country Women’s Association Pambula – Merimbula Branch also contributed.
Stage one is expected to be completed by local company RD Miller by October 2017.
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