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Friday, June 18, 2021

New designs released for the Canberra Hospital expansion

The public has until mid-June to comment on the revised Development Application for the Canberra Hospital expansion, which includes more treatment spaces, relaxation areas outside for visitors, and better parking. 

The DA is available for comment until 18 June at www.planning.act.gov.au.

“We really encourage Canberrans to take a good look at what we’re planning for the Canberra Hospital extension and to make their comments over the next six weeks,” said Rachel Stephen-Smith, ACT Minister for Health. “We welcome comments about any aspect of the project, and indeed other comments that they want to make.”

Touted as the largest healthcare infrastructure commitment ever undertaken by an ACT Government, the Hospital expansion, first announced in 2016, is on track to be completed in 2024. The centrepiece is the construction of a 40,000 sqm Emergency, Surgical and Critical Healthcare Building.

“This is the first opportunity we’ve had for a generation to design our critical care facilities from scratch,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“We’re building a new emergency department based on modern understandings of the best model of care and efficiency and patient flow through an emergency department. We’re building our spaces with engagement with consumers in a way that maybe didn’t happen 30, 40 and 50 years ago when our existing major hospitals were constructed.”

The latest plans were the culmination of 12 months of consultation with clinicians, consumers and the local community, including 10 weeks of pre-DA consultation from December to February.

“What people will see is a facility that is open, light, has multiple green spaces, and really friendly, welcoming indoor and outdoor spaces for staff, patients and their families and carers,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

An artist’s impression of the new Emergency, Surgical and Critical Healthcare Building (interior). Picture: BVN / ACT Government.

The design now includes a café terrace; a reflection garden; courtyards with dedicated spaces for veterans and Indigenous people; a paediatric courtyard where children can play; and landscape terraces on upper levels.

“People wanted … safe, comfortable places for families to get away from the inevitable stress of a hospital admission, whether that’s for themselves or for their family members,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

There will be 72 emergency department (ED) treatment spaces (33 more than in earlier designs); eight more Coronary Care Unit beds; and the surgical recovery area will be repositioned, so patients have more natural light.

The model of care in the ED will be changed to ensure patients can be treated and discharged quickly, Ms Stephen-Smith said.

Duncan Edghill, Major Projects Canberra chief projects officer, said that the community also wanted adequate seating and amenities for ED visitors, the building to be easy to navigate, and better car parking.

A Welcome Hall at the heart of the campus will help visitors find their way, and separate patients to give them privacy and dignity, while a Wellness Village will be used for education events, markets and performances.

An artist’s impression of the new Welcome Hall. Picture: BVN / ACT Government.

Short-term parking and dedicated pick-up and drop-off zones will be created at the Hospital Road and Yamba Drive (Bateson Road) entrances. A car park with 1,100 spaces for hospital staff will be built on the former CIT site.

As part of the Canberra Hospital Expansion Project, last year, Building 4 was refurbished, and services were relocated under Hospital Road. This year, a new Child at Risk Health Unit was established in April; Building 9 opened this week as a new patient and carer accommodation facility; and the new Building 8 (housing the Canberra Sexual Health Centre and training and admin) will be opened later this month.

Ms Stephen-Smith said the completion of these early works meant that vital community services would not be disrupted when Buildings 5 and 24 were demolished; this would, in turn, allow preparatory site works to begin for the main Emergency, Surgical and Critical Healthcare building.

“We’re looking at finalising construction in 2024, and we’re confident that that is absolutely achievable,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

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