Hospitals 13 June 2023

Investing in healthy futures in Gippsland's south coast

Gippsland’s south coast is growing rapidly, as more people call this area home.

Bass Coast Shire is one of Victoria’s fastest growing regional areas, with its population expected to more than double by 2031.

To meet the increasing healthcare needs of these communities, the Victorian Government is upgrading and expanding Wonthaggi Hospital.

The first stage of this expansion was completed in 2022. The $115 million investment provided upgrades including a new emergency department, new theatres and new medical imaging.

The next stage will provide a new birthing complex, a new outpatient clinic and additional beds.

New Wonthaggi Hospital delivers world-class facilities and care

Kirby Ireland is a nurse in the emergency department at Wonthaggi Hospital. Having grown up in the region where she is now raising her family, Kirby has seen the rapid growth firsthand.

‘It’s become more and more busy with lots of families moving from metro areas,’ says Kirby.

Working at the hospital means she also understands the increased demand for healthcare.

‘People appear to be getting more acute illnesses. There is also a large ageing population with specialist needs.'

She says before the stage one upgrade some residents had to travel to Melbourne for specialist treatment, which was costly.

Healthcare of the future

Wonthaggi Hospital is run by Bass Coast Health.

Jan Child, CEO of the health service, says the upgraded hospital can now provide local communities with 'the healthcare of the future'.

‘It is an amazing facility that is ground-breaking for Wonthaggi and will enable us to grow our services and treat more patients closer to their homes.’

‘For the first time in history, the expanded hospital has a purpose-built emergency department that will serve the community 24 hours a day, seven days a week.’

More operating rooms and beds also means more complex surgeries can be managed locally.

This improved capacity means fewer patients need to be transferred to hospitals in metropolitan Melbourne.

The stage one Wonthaggi Hospital expansion and upgrade delivered

  • new 24-hour emergency department
  • three new operating theatres and a procedure room
  • new theatre recovery area
  • 18 extra emergency treatment spaces
  • new inpatient ward with 32 inpatient beds
  • new satellite medical imaging department
  • new central energy plant
  • extra car parking spaces.

Funding for stage two of the expansion has been approved for:

  • a new birthing complex
  • a new outpatient clinic
  • extra beds.
Theatre technician Ryan Nestoriwsky in a theatre at the upgraded Wonthaggi Hospital

Inspiring the next generation

Ryan Nestoriwsky, pictured, loves his job as a theatre technician at the new Wonthaggi Hospital.

He says exposure to innovative technology and the growing list of surgery capabilities inspired him to study nursing.

Working at a world-class facility like the upgraded Wonthaggi Hospital has taught him a lot.

‘I’ve just started my nursing degree and having prior theatre knowledge has helped me already.’

He hopes to one day become an anaesthetic nurse and deliver surgical care to the Bass Coast community.

Ensuring residents can access the healthcare they need within their community is an issue close to Ryan’s heart.

Ryan wanted to work in healthcare after a sick family member needed complex surgery.

‘I respected the people who looked after my relative and I wanted to be like them.'

A community affair

Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child says the community is immensely proud of the world-class hospital.

Ms Child says that involving community is important as incorporating the needs of doctors and staff. ‘After all, it’s their hospital.’

This includes through a Community Advisory Committee, made up of local volunteers.

Input and feedback from the committee was the cornerstone of Wonthaggi Hospital’s stage one redevelopment.  ‘We couldn’t have built this hospital without their support and input,’ adds Ms Child.’

Find out more about the Wonthaggi Hospital expansion.

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Last updated: 13 June 2023