First year in new hospital marked

Sam Kane | Bendigo Weekly | 25-Jan-2018

Celebrations for the one year anniversary of the hospital. Photo: Andrew Perryman.

“A GREAT sense of relief.”

That’s how Bendigo Health chief Peter Faulkner described the moment everyone was in and ready in Bendigo’s new $630 million hospital, one year on since occupation commenced.

Speaking to the Bendigo Weekly, Mr Faulkner was optimistic for what is to come, however he said year one had provided its difficulties.

“The biggest challenge has been to really get the services settled, to get staff familiar with the technology, to utilise it in the best ways possible. It is a complex hospital, digitally, in terms of the technologies that exist, so I think that’s been a challenge,” he said.

He said the size, in comparison with the old facility, had also proved different for staff.

“The first thing that staff encountered was it was so much larger, which was very positive because we were pretty tightly constrained on the old hospital,” he said.

Yet, 12 months down the track, daily operations all “just seem normal”.

“There’s always teething problems in any new environment, and new hospital, so having all of those out of the way has been really important,” he said.

“Staff have done a fantastic job in working through those sorts of teething problems, getting familiar with the new environment, supporting patients through that change and transition, because equally it’s challenging for the community to come into the new environment.”

With just under 46,000 admissions, more than 50,000 presentations to emergency, almost 1400 babies and 82,000 outpatient appointments in 2017 alone, Mr Faulkner said the biggest highlight of year one has been able to continue to provide treatment and care uninterrupted.

“We’ve been really busy throughout that time, and it’s full credit to our clinical teams for their commitment and their focus on what was really important, and that’s providing the service to our community,” he said.

He also listed the removal of sugary drinks from the hospital, awards for sustainability as well as work in response to domestic violence as positives of the first year.

“The sense I have is that the organisation is very settled, that staff feel very confident in their environment now, not to say we don’t still have challenges,” Mr Faulkner said.

“We have lots of demand, there’s plenty of people who need the service, and we’re working hard to ensure they receive it.

“I think now that we have one year behind us, we can really start to focus on the service elements.

“The challenges of providing timely care through the emergency department, to meeting our targets around waiting lists for surgery, and generally just trying to improve and meet the demand that exists and really push ourselves to the next level of improvement and excellence in care.”

This year will also signal the opening of stage two of the hospital development – set for hand over in June.

This will see a foot bridge and helipad, as well as a carpark, become additions to the facility, changing the nature of the service.

“Having a helipad will give us both the ability to receive patients that might otherwise by flying over to Melbourne,” Mr Faulkner said.

“It also gives us the ability to move patients out to Melbourne as required, and to do so very efficiently.

“As a Bendigo resident I’m delighted that we’ll have the ability to do that.”

Mr Faulkner also earmarked some plans for the old hospital site which are ready to go depending on the hospital’s ability to generate funds to invest.

“In terms of our facilities, the next big challenge for us is to find the best use of the old hospital,” he said.

Although we’d grown out of it as an acute hospital, it’s still a very sound building.”

In reviewing the first year, asked whether he believed the state-of-the-art facility had achieved its initial vision, Mr Faulkner said the organisation would always strive to do better, and to do more.

“I don’t think we would ever rest on our laurels,” he said.

“The day we think we’ve completely succeeded is the day we’re fooling ourselves, I think.

“We’re very fortunate to have such a fantastic facility, we’re even more fortunate to have the dedication, the commitment  and the ability that exists in our staff.”


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