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A whole new hospital to bypass Calvary

By johnboy 19 October 2010 35

The ACT Government has spent millions upgrading the Catholic Church’s Calvary Hospital for public use (except for things the church doesn’t like but which are entirely legal).

Today in the Canberra Times John Thistleton reports that following the aborted buyout process the ACT Government is now looking to build a North Canberra hospital:

The ACT Government is considering building a third public hospital in Canberra’s north, possibly at Gungahlin Town Centre, or the University of Canberra.

Difficulties over the past year redeveloping the Canberra Hospital and the protracted debate over buying and refurbishing Calvary Hospital are shaping ACT Treasury and Health’s thinking on the issue.

Apparently they’re looking to have a decision by the next budget.

On the other hand this might light a fire under the Little Company of Mary’s bums about selling Calvary Hospital while it’s worth a lot more.


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A whole new hospital to bypass Calvary
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Gungahlin Al 9:47 am 22 Oct 10

Here is the info I sent Katy on a third hospital in Gungahlin, for anyone who’s interested. Sorry I was late into this discussion. Busy times…

The third hospital in Gungahlin is an idea we have been floating for the best part of a year now, through our newsletter and on our website and (rapidly growing) Facebook page, plus through several media interviews.

The land in question is shown in the Territory Plan extract on this page, together with our thoughts on why it makes sense: http://www.gcc.asn.au/News/Planning-development/gungahlin-3rd-hospital.html

You’ll see the article has been read by over 600 people (800+ now). We’ve had strong support for the idea through our Facebook page too, and no negative comments (other than “it’ll never happen”).

We are concerned that the 40-50,000 new people into Molonglo will push Garran and Calvary to their limits. Add in another 50-60,000 people still to come in Gungahlin, and those two hospitals simply won’t be enough. The disturbances while trying to redevelop the sites over and over will cause uproars. You can start from scratch in Gungahlin. And it isn’t like we are a long way from anywhere. The town centre is just 6 minutes from Dickson. Even now with all the Gungahlin Drive roadworks going on, it is still quicker at peak hour to drive from Gungahlin to Woden than Gungahlin to Civic.

Then there is the issue of the desperate need for an employment base in Gungahlin. We managed to get ACTPLA to reserve the land – step 1. Now we need tenants. We understand that the ACT Government would want to centralise most of its core operations (although we were bitterly disappointed the LDA wasn’t moved out here where most of their business is for the foreseeable future).

But a hospital is not something you’d put in Civic. And it would be brilliant for the employees of a hospital to be right next to a fully-serviced town centre, as opposed to being a little out in the boonies and locked into using just the on-site facilities, which usually milk the captive market.

So instead of hanging out for the possibility of Federal Government office block to kick things off, this is one way the ACT Government can inject jobs into Gungahlin that would ensure it does not remain a dormitory area – with all the massively expensive implications for all Canberrans of the transport infrastructure you’d have to build if we all continue to have to commute out every day. Once the land was committed to a hospital, other investors would swoop on the adjacent land, and Gungahlin town centre’s future would be set. You’d probably get a far higher price for these adjacent office and retail blocks too, not to mention for nearby residential land releases.

Also, as I mentioned in my statement to the budget estimates, we have some concerns about whether it is appropriate for a publicly funded hospital (Calvary) to impose restrictions on certain treatments due to the religious beliefs of the management, which may well not correspond to the beliefs (or otherwise) of a large proportion of the public user base.

The ACTPLA staff are wrapping up the Territory Plan variations for the Town Centre Master Plan. It would be good to get in quick and reserve half of that 40 hectare site for the new hospital.

Gungahlin Al 6:32 am 21 Oct 10

Huh. Just looked at the online version of the article, and realised it cuts out the entire GCC-related content that was the core of the print version article…

I-filed 9:21 pm 20 Oct 10

Yes, let’s leave the nuns to ministering to Catholics, and have a secular public health facility that provides safe abortions.

Gungahlin Al 6:50 pm 20 Oct 10

Neither did I Sepi. But that’s another story.

This whole issue stemmed from the lobbying Gungahlin Community Council has done to bring a third hospital to Gungahlin, which started in April this year, here: http://www.gcc.asn.au/News/Planning-development/gungahlin-3rd-hospital.html and here: http://www.gcc.asn.au/images/Gunsmoke/2010/issue_117.pdf as well as through a number of media interviews I have done with 2CC and ABC Radio, the Chronicle and Gungahlin News, plus on our rapidly growing Facebook page facebook.com/gungahlin.

We’ve had a lot of positive feedback about our idea, but usually along the lines of “Fantastic idea. But it’ll never happen.”

As a result of a more recent media story about our idea, I received a message from Katy Gallagher asking for more information about our proposal, which I provided, much in line with what is in the above article. I also included some discussion about the reality that we have another 40-50,000 people coming to Molonglo and 50-60,000 people coming to Gungahlin (you could toss in Googong and possibly Tralee on top of that but I didn’t think of it!). Our thoughts were that neither hospital could be expanded to cope with this growth without needing substantial reconstruction, with all the grief that causes, such as has been happening at Garran recently.

Katy asked us to a meeting to talk about it more. As it turned out I was in Queensland as my mother passed away, so I had the meeting with Katy by phone. She explained that she had asked the Health planners to update their population projects, and what they realised was that (as close as I can recall the exact words Katy used) “if we only have two hospitals, we face them both being construction sites for the forseeable future, and that is not an appealing prospect.” I concur…

I explained about how much better it would be to attract new staff into the area if they could promote living, working and shopping all within a treddly ride of each other, plus a hospital where staff and patients aren’t being fleeced by the one on-site food outlet because there’s a whole town centre next door. And not having everyone commuting out of Gungahlin every day is good for all ACT taxpayers – roads are bloody expensive.

Katy explained that she had asked LAPS to identify potential sites. LAPS identified the UC co-location, the corner of Gungahlin Drv and Kellaway, Nicholls (which I scotched based on lack of public transport and businesses, plus impact on residents), and the exact blocks we have been talking about in the Gungahlin Town Centre. She also asked about what sort of reception the idea would get in the Gungahlin community. Positive, I said, in somewhat more words.

I talked with John Thistleton about the discussion last week and he rang back Monday to talk through the issues. And it is good to see that John’s CT article confirms that the ACT Govt is taking the idea seriously, and is to make a decision on it before the next budget.

So it comes down to at UC so it can be close to med students, or at Gungahlin so it can be close to patients and staff.

This is a watershed moment for Gungahlin – it would ‘define the town centre’ as a leading planning person said to me today.

So now it is over to Gungahlin residents and business operators. You need to be writing to the government and your local MLAs and get behind the idea.

sepi 3:40 pm 20 Oct 10

I did not find my Calvary hospital stay to be a good one.

As for improving the hospitals we have – the article above states that continuing to improve the Woden hospital, instead of building a new one will just mean the hospital is a permanent building site. And why do improvements on Calvary when it is owned by a religious corporation and there is no agreement on who would own any improvements?

nanzan 3:01 pm 20 Oct 10

I am not saying that Canberra doesn’t need a new public hospital, although I would have thought making the two public hospitals we have now better, should be our priority.

As for Calvary (Public) Hospital, we have used their maternity, emergency, pastoral care and endoscopy services over the years, and their level of service, expertise and compassion have been amazing. Rather than bagging the hospital simply because it is operated by a Catholic health care provider, I think we should celebrate the richness in health care this hospital has provided to the ACT community over many years.

housebound 12:46 pm 20 Oct 10

It all goes back to Kate Carnell and that implosion …

Thumper 10:52 am 20 Oct 10

Gungahlin seems logical to me given it will ensure an almost even spread of hospitals across the ACT.

That is, if it actually gets built.

flynnite 10:37 am 20 Oct 10

kakosi said :

Calvary is already a public hospital – with some private services.

I’ve had a great deal of recent experience with both Calvary and the Canberra hospital in Woden. In terms of management and organisation (as well as safety) Calvary is far better run and the staff in the wards and emergency areas are more willing to actually take care of patient’s needs.

I hope they never sell out to the ACT government because it’s obvious from the mess at the Woden hospital that public administration in Canberra is dangerously incompetent. Every time the ambulance takes a family member to Woden I hold my breath and hope they don’t make another life-threatening mistake.

I also have had great deal of experiences at Calvary from the Birth of my children to the recent death of my mother..I have nothing but praise for the Staff at Calvary Hospital and bad, very bad experiences at Woden. Religion was never a factor. I am not Catholic. But the caring Nuns have always been there to help and to even pray when needed. I am never going to knock any help from anywhere when life is in the balance.

Maybe we just need a Hospital at Gungahlin and 1 at Tuggeranong or is that too simple an idea.

The difference in the Hospitals is the Management and it shows. Woden Hospital not even on my death bed.

p1 10:20 am 20 Oct 10

sepi said :

More space – they can build it right to start with, including stacks of parking.

Makes sense to me. There must be a spot with good road access, just far enough from the town centre that pay parking won’t be necessary any time soon to discourage office workers (assuming that’s why they have pay parking at TCH these days).

sepi 9:47 am 20 Oct 10

Gungahlin makes sense to me.

More space – they can build it right to start with, including stacks of parking.

And it would make sense to have some traffic going into Gungahlin, instead of yet more traffic to Belco.

And the Corporation of Mary can keep on catholicising health care in Belconnen.

homeone 9:37 am 20 Oct 10

kakosi said :

I’ve had a great deal of recent experience with both Calvary and the Canberra hospital in Woden. In terms of management and organisation (as well as safety) Calvary is far better run and the staff in the wards and emergency areas are more willing to actually take care of patient’s needs.

I’ve been admitted to & an out-patient at both in the last 12 months.

I live in Belconnen and Calvary is closeby but given a choice I’d go to Woden.

harley 8:41 am 20 Oct 10

Today in the Canberra Times John Thistleton reports that following the aborted buyout process the ACT Government is now looking to build a North Canberra hospital:

How did that happen at Calvary?

Deref 7:44 am 20 Oct 10

Why go to the expense? We already own Calvary. Give the Large Multinational Corporation of Mary their marching orders. There’s a reason that it’s the most expensive hospital in Australia, and it has nothing to do with medical care.

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