EVEN higher standards in fire safety and medical equipment sterility have been made possible at South Gippsland Hospital in Foster thanks to a grant of $325,000-plus from the Victorian Government’s Regional Health Infrastructure Fund (RHIF).
Electronic interfacing fire alarms serving both the Hospital and the adjacent Banksia Centre have now been fitted, and about 150 thermal and smoke detectors throughout the two buildings have been replaced.
A specialised reverse osmosis water treatment plant, which produces distilled water for use in medical and surgical equipment sterilisers by removing impurities and electric charges from tap water, has also been installed.
The reverse osmosis plant will be commissioned just as soon as its on-order companion machine, a brand-new, large-capacity steriliser, arrives at the Hospital.
SGH chief executive officer Paul Greenhalgh said the funding for the fire alarm and sterilising systems had been allocated in the fifth round of the State’s RHIF, announced in 2021.
“We appreciate how the Government continues to help us keep up with contemporary medical service provision standards and requirements,” he said.
“The fire alarms will ensure greater safety for patients and hospital staff alike, and the reverse osmosis unit and steriliser working together will mean even more effective infection control.”
Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley said, “everyone deserves access to quality healthcare facilities and services – we’re ensuing South Gippsland Hospital can continue to provide exactly that, closer to home.
“The Government’s $490 million RHIF provides funding to rural and regional health services and agencies across Victoria so these services can continue to provide safe and efficient care to local communities,” he said.
“It’s the largest program of its type in Victoria funding more than 488 projects since 2016.”
SGH received $1.7 million in the second round of the RHIF towards its new operating theatre and birthing suite, completed and opened in 2020.
Eastern Victoria MLC Jane Garrett said, “we’re investing in hospitals across Gippsland to ensure local residents get the very best care and our dedicated doctors, nurses, other hospital staff are set to benefit – including right here in Foster.”
Mr Greenhalgh said, “not only does the birth suite upgrade and new building provide a better experience for our patients, but also the members of our healthcare team are able to enjoy much more space, new equipment and modern infrastructure.
“The patients from the Corner Inlet community have been very impressed with our modern amenities, as have the local medical practitioners and the visiting surgeons who come from Melbourne and from the Latrobe Regional Hospital in Traralgon.”
SGH Facilities Manager Martin Schack, who is also the Hospital’s Chief Fire Warden, said the new fire safety system was designed to raise the alarm should heat and/or smoke be detected in either the Hospital itself or in the Banksia Centre.
“If an internal alarm goes off in the Banksia Centre it will show at the Hospital, and vice versa, on our digital annunciator panels, which are also part of our nurse call system,” he said.
“Alarm buttons connected to the Country Fire Authority’s Foster Fire Brigade are located throughout the Hospital and the Banksia Centre.
“The golden rule we abide by here is that if a fire is bigger than a cubic metre and cannot be dealt with by an extinguisher, we hit the CFA button and go into evacuation mode,” Mr Schack said.
“We also conduct regular fire drills and mock scenarios to make sure all staff members are fully aware of the Hospital’s comprehensive fire safety management protocols,” he said.
“We acknowledge the professionalism and support offered so unstintingly to us by the Foster Fire Brigade, led by Captain David Jones.”
Mr Schack said the Hospital’s reverse osmosis unit would employ a technology that removes a large majority of contaminants and trace elements from water by pushing the water under pressure through a semi-permeable membrane.
“The reverse osmosis system is built from inert stainless steel pipework that is resistant to corrosion, unlike copper and brass, and features a 220-litre holding tank” he said.
“The overall project is about 75 per cent complete, and we’re waiting for the new surgical instrument steriliser to come so we may bring it into service as soon as possible.”