Hospitals 15 May 2023

Community input cornerstone of new Wonthaggi Hospital design

This National Volunteer Week (15 - 21 May) we acknowledge the important contribution community volunteers make to the successful delivery of new health infrastructure projects.

We meet Terry Shannon from Inverloch, who between regular surfing and cycling, has been making valued contributions to help shape Bass Coast Health’s recently opened Wonthaggi Hospital expansion.

Community contribution can be seen throughout Wonthaggi Hospital’s recently completed $115 million expansion.

That’s thanks to several hard-working volunteers who were invited to have their say in the massive project’s design. This included a new emergency department, inpatient ward and operating theatres.

Inverloch resident Terry Shannon, 81, along with other members of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC), contributed to the design of the new hospital expansion. They gave feedback on features as varied as:

  • overhead lighting
  • patient comfort
  • security
  • way-finding
  • decoration.

Since the expansion project started, community volunteers with diverse backgrounds in psychology, engineering and health, have worked with the project’s architects, building contractors and services engineers. They have helped deliver the redevelopment’s first stage.

Mr Shannon says they all shared a common desire to contribute to an important community project. One that would continue to be a cornerstone of the community for decades to come.

He was pleasantly surprised at how much the group’s input was welcomed by professionals throughout the design process. Design contributions from the community group include:

  • reflecting the area and its history in the design
  • providing easy access to public transport and parking
  • preserving patient dignity
  • ensuring the safety for staff and visitors alike.

Find out how volunteers contributed to the Wonthaggi Hospital expansion project.

IMAGES: Various aerial views of the new Wonthaggi Hospital expansion

ONSCREEN TEXT: The Victorian Health Building Authority is committed to working with locals to ensure any new hospital meets their needs, and is an asset they can be proud of.

IMAGES: Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child standing and talking within a new operating theatre of the hospital, followed by aerial views of the expansion.

VOICEOVER: For a rural community like ours the hospital is a beacon of hope. We are such a part of the community. People come here to give birth, they come here to die, and they get all of their care in between.

IMAGES: View of the operating theatre, followed by Jan Child and a Community Consultation Committee member walking through a corridor.

ONSCREEN TEXT: The $115 million Wonthaggi Hospital expansion project doubled surgery capacity and delivered three new operating theatres plus a procedure room.

VOICEOVER: It's really important for a community hospital like ours to actually have community input. I've not ever felt a community own its hospital like this community owns its hospital.

IMAGES: The CEO and community member look across at inpatient units from a staff station, followed by community member speaking within the operating theatre.

VOICEOVER: On a couple of occasions I've been a consumer myself here. So I'm in a good position to speak about the level of care etcetera.

IMAGES: The CEO and community member are speaking within the operating theatre, followed by a view of an inpatient unit. 

VOICEOVER: Consumers would sit around the table with us and say 'actually have you thought about this or what about this?' and they bring a different perspective.

VOICEOVER: I'm an elderly man. I have great grandsons, little tiddlers. All of us rely on this place to look after us.

ONSCREEN TEXT: The new emergency department has 18 extra treatment spaces for treating 26,000 more emergency patients every year

IMAGES: Close up of operating theatre equipment, followed by the CEO and community member talking as they walk through a hospital corridor

VOICEOVER: We couldn't have built this hospital without their support and their input.

VOICEOVER: The contributions that we were making seemed to trigger interest from the architects and engineers.

IMAGES: The CEO standing and talking within a new operating theatre of the hospital, followed by close ups of equipment

VOICEOVER: The end product is not just going to work for staff but it's going to take into account the patient's needs, the family members’ needs.

IMAGES: Street level view of the entrance and emergency entrance to Wonthaggi Hospital, followed by an aerial view of the expansion

VOICEOVER: It was done by professionals who said 'What do you need us to do for the comfort, dignity and safety of you?'

VOICEOVER: The wisdom and the intellect that the community members and consumers bring to projects like these is gold.

ONSCREEN TEXT: The first stage was completed in November 2022

IMAGES: The closing slide contains the Victorian Health Building Authority and the Victorian State Government logos, plus the url

>> End of transcript.

One thing the design team and community members agreed on was the hospital should have plenty of natural light. Most patient areas have large windows with garden views to provide a more pleasant, ‘people oriented’ experience.

Even operating theatres have high-mounted clerestory windows, so natural light gets in and privacy is maintained.

An Order of Australia medal from 2020 acknowledges Mr Shannon’s life-long and generous voluntary community contributions.

Mr Shannon keeps himself busy. He still regularly surfs and cycles around 100 kilometres a week. He is a Justice of the Peace and contributes to his local hospital.

He has spent 10 years volunteering with Wonthaggi Hospital’s pastoral care team. He was a perfect choice to be asked to join the new hospital’s design CAC.

Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child says involving the local community in planning the new hospital was just as important as incorporating the needs of doctors and staff.

‘After all, it’s their hospital,’ says Ms Child.

Volunteers were involved in the project from the first day in May 2018 when funding for the Wonthaggi Hospital expansion was announced, through to its recent opening five years later.

‘The wisdom that the community members bring to projects like these is gold. It’s important because they’re the ones who are going to use the service.’

Jan Child, Bass Coast CEO

A Clinical Services Plan outlined medical requirements for the new building and provided a roadmap to the expanded hospital becoming a sub-regional health service. However, there’s no rule book for what the everyday patient might want or need, explains Jan.

Learn more about the Wonthaggi Hospital expansion at its dedicated project page.

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Last updated: 15 May 2023