SOUTH Gippsland Hospital in Foster has appointed Warragul-based firm Farnham Developments Pty Ltd to build the hospital’s long-awaited new operating theatre and to refurbish the birthing suite.
The building contract was signed at the hospital on Tuesday July 16, 2019, and works are expected to start on the dual $1.738 million project during the next few weeks.
South Gippsland Hospital chief executive officer Chris Trotman said the hospital was “pleased to announce that Farnham Developments has been engaged as the successful tenderer.
“Farnham Developments has a strong reputation in the health care sector,” she said.
“Working together with the Farnham and the project’s designers, SLAP Architects of Bairnsdale, we will try to minimise the inconvenience and the disruption to services for our local community as much as we can during the construction period.”
Hospital board of management acting chair Graeme Baxter said the board was also “very pleased that the builders have been chosen for the new operating theatre and the maternity suite refurbishment.
“We very much look forward to following the progression of the project, which is of significant importance to the hospital and for our community,” he said.
Farnham Developments has extensive experience in local health sector projects, including the Latrobe Regional Hospital, the Heyfield Hospital and the Central Gippsland Hospital in Sale.
The firm’s portfolio also includes a number of aged care facilities, community health services and medical centres in Gippsland.
Farnham Developments director Phil Farnham said “it’s been a privilege to work with Chris and her team at the South Gippsland Hospital to provide new and upgraded facilities for the Foster community and surrounding areas.
“This project is also for the staff who provide such a high level of care for those in the community,” he said.
SLAP Architects is knowledgeable about Gippsland health care projects, too, and on the practice’s previous client list are Bairnsdale Regional Hospital, Latrobe Regional Hospital, Latrobe Community Health, Central Gippsland Health Service, Orbost Hospital and Maffra Hospital.
Ms Trotman said the project had been delayed while additional funding was sought to accommodate a change in the Australian Standards that govern the size of operating theatres.
“The extra $138,000 funding needed for the project was the result of a successful application to the Victorian Government’s Regional Health Infrastructure Fund, through the Department of Health and Human Services,” she said.
“Our project now includes a larger operating theatre in line with the new standards.”
Ms Trotman said the new operating theatre would be about double the size of the present facility and would also include a post-operative recovery area along with a private consultation room for the use of surgical staff and their patients.
The new theatre will be built as an extension to the existing hospital and located at the Station Road and Jones Street corner of the building.
Ms Trotman said the hospital had first been allocated $1.6 million to replace the operating theatre in March 2018 when final plans for the project as it was then were approved by the Government.
However, the subsequent change to the Australian Standards meant that the previously accepted design needed to be amended and lodged for reapproval by Victorian Health and Human Services Building Authority.
A bid for further funding to cover the difference in the cost of the project was also required and this was made in late December 2018. The second grant was confirmed in late-June 2019.
“The new operating theatre will mean we can continue to offer our theatre services at South Gippsland Hospital and to maintain the highest possible standards for our patients,” Ms Trotman said.
“Equally importantly, it will allow us to maintain the range of the maternity services we offer as a small rural health service, including Caesarean sections,” she said.
“Our current operating theatre has been upgraded a number of times to make sure it has kept meeting changing requirements since it was first built as part of the hospital in 1952 and it will remain in service until the new theatre is ready.
“We normally close the theatre for the three weeks over the Christmas and New Year period in any case, and now we will be re-arranging our theatre lists and performing more procedures during the couple of weeks before and after this time,” Ms Trotman said.
“The old theatre will eventually be given a new role when the new theatre takes over, for example, as a back-up labour ward, as it will still be just as serviceable.”
Plans for the maternity suite include improved privacy, soundproofing and a remodelled en suite bathroom that is more suited to heavily pregnant women.
A second utility or “pan” room for the hospital will also be included in the project.
Ms Trotman said the plans for the new operating theatre and the maternity suite improvements will be on public display at the hospital shortly.