Premier opens Victoria’s largest medical precinct
A plan which began three days after the election of the Bracks Government in 1999 has come to fruition, with the opening of Victoria’s newest public hospitals. The redeveloped Austin Hospital and the relocated Mercy Hospital for Women are the culmination of the Government’s first pledge – to rebuild the Austin and keep it in public hands. To celebrate the official opening of the hospitals by Premier Steve Bracks, the Government staged an open day today for thousands of members of the local community. “The two hospitals co-located on the same Heidelberg site are powerful examples of the Government’s commitment to rebuilding the health system,” Mr Bracks said. “This is undoubtedly one of the most significant projects delivered by this Government. The health services the Austin and Mercy provide will make Melbourne an even better place to raise a family.” Mr Bracks said the Government has invested $376 million in the project to develop Victoria’s largest medical precinct as part of a $2 billion-plus vision to rebuild hospitals across the State. “The next stage of this vision was announced in last Tuesday’s Budget, with a $358 million capital boost to expand and upgrade hospitals,” Mr Bracks said. “The Austin and Mercy redevelopment is the largest single investment in health the north-east suburbs have ever received, and was delivered by Major Projects Victoria on time and on budget. It is the largest hospital redevelopment to ever be completed in Victoria.” Mr Bracks said the Mercy Hospital for Women would welcome its first patients from May 15, while the Austin will take its first patients on May 24 and be fully operational from June 6. “The open day gives the community the chance to have a first look at this state-of-the-art medical facility that brings together two of Victoria’s best hospitals,” Mr Bracks said. “They will be able to tour through the different sections of the hospitals and get a first-hand idea of how they will enhance the healthcare of the local community. “But this will probably be the last time that residents will be able to take a leisurely stroll through, as within days and weeks both hospitals will be in full operational swing and at the forefront in delivering quality hospital and health services to thousands of patients.” Mr Bracks said the new Austin and Mercy would play key roles in helping the Government achieve its Budget initiatives, including admitting an extra 40,000 patients across the State and a blitz on elective surgery waiting times for up to 10,000 patients experiencing long times to treatment.“Our work at the Austin and Mercy builds on the Government’s achievements over the past five years,” Mr Bracks said. “These include the rebuilding of 26 hospitals, the opening of Casey Hospital at Berwick – the first totally-new hospital in Victoria for more than 20 years – the hiring of 5200 extra nurses and the decision to build a new Royal Children’s Hospital. “This is in stark contrast to the previous Government, which closed hospitals, slashed nurse jobs, cut hospital budgets to the bone and had decided to sell off the Austin. “It gives me a great sense of pride to see the Austin, once earmarked for privatisation, has now risen up to become a revitalised public asset for all Victorians.” Health Minister Bronwyn Pike said the Austin and Mercy redevelopment is one of the most significant infrastructure projects in the State and part of more than $10 billion of major infrastructure projects being facilitated by the Bracks Government. It also created jobs, manufacturing and contracting opportunities. More than 700 people were directly employed at the redevelopment site during the peak of construction. AT A GLANCE The new Austin Hospital features: ·400 acute beds ·A 30-bed new intensive care unit ·One of the state’s largest adult emergency units and a specialist six-bed facility for children ·A purpose-built, 26-bed high-tech spinal unit to serve all of Victoria and Tasmania ·Infectious diseases isolation rooms in each ward ·Nearly a quarter of rooms will be single-bed ·En suite facilities in each room ·A unique teaching, training and research precinct including a teaching space and laboratory on each level. The new Mercy Hospital for Women features: ·128 adult beds ·62 cots in the special care nursery and neonatal intensive care unit ·13 birthing suites and four family birth centre suites, all with en suites ·20 outpatient suites ·10-bed acute assessment area ·Four operating theatres ·Teaching and training facilities.