5 January 2023

Birthing, surgery to resume at Calvary Public Hospital

| Dione David
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calvary hospital entrance

Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce resumed some surgeries this morning after a fire took out the operating theatre complex last month. Photo: File.

Birthing, critical elective surgery and emergency surgery recommenced at Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce at 7 am this morning (6 January) following a partial reopening of the operating theatre complex damaged in a fire last month.

Three of the seven operating theatres at Calvary Public Hospital that were closed following a fire in early December have been isolated and fully repaired, ensuring an appropriate operating environment while works continue on the remaining four.

Two will be used for surgery while the third will be used as a sterile storage space for surgical equipment.

This means all birthing, which was on bypass due to the unavailability of surgery in the event of an emergency, will resume, along with urgent surgeries.

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Calvary ACT Regional CEO Ross Hawkins said the staged approach to getting the whole complex back online meant the hospital could address its main concern more immediately.

“The most seriously impacted cohort has been women due to give birth at Calvary Public. We understand birthing can be a stressful time and have been conscious of the impact this has had on the women due to give birth here,” he said.

“Throughout all of this, we’ve maintained patient safety has been front of mind in all the decisions we’ve made, and we made the difficult choice that no births could take place at Bruce Public until operating capacity returned.

“We’ve worked closely with Canberra Health Services to organise alternatives for these women, but I know our midwives and their patients will be glad to have services return to normal.”

Man standing outside hospital

Calvary ACT Regional CEO Ross Hawkins said patients and staff will be relieved by the reinstatement of surgical capacity at the public hospital. Photo: Calvary.

The Calvary Public Hospital surgical bookings and maternity teams will contact all patients in the coming days to discuss revised surgery or birthing arrangements.

Until operations resume tomorrow, all current arrangements will stay in place.

Surgery for patients presenting to the Calvary Public Hospital Bruce emergency department will be conducted at Canberra Hospital, birthing mothers will continue on bypass to Canberra Hospital, elective cesareans will take place at the private Calvary John James Hospital and critical elective surgery at Calvary Bruce Private Hospital and John James.

A birthing suite at Calvary Public Hospital in Bruce

Birthing suites at Bruce Public Hospital will be back online from tomorrow morning. Photo: Calvary.

Mr Hawkins said the hospital’s response and ability to continue providing “timely, safe, high-quality and appropriate care” to all patients at a challenging time was a testament to Canberra’s effective health system.

“We couldn’t have asked for better from Canberra Hospital staff who worked so hard to help support us through this process. They effectively took all our birthing women on. The midwives at Centenary Women Youth and Children have been fantastic.

“Having John James and Bruce Private in our network has been incredibly helpful. The staff there have been amazing. We’re so grateful they’ll continue to help us meet any shortfall in surgery as we work towards making the theatre complex fully operational.

“Through all this, we’ve been proud of the professionalism of our staff and their willingness to go the extra mile to provide excellent patient care.”

Mr Hawkins said the hospital expected to bring another theatre online and a sterile storage space to free up the operating theatre currently earmarked for storage in four to six weeks, and the remaining three within the first quarter of the year.

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On 6 December, an electrical fire in an operating theatre, which was not in use at the time, caused structural damage to the room, smoke and water damage to the two theatres on either side of it and smoke damage to a further three.

Mr Hawkins said getting operating theatres back online after a fire was “quite a process” involving stripping, intensive cleaning and sterilisation, sampling, swabbing and creating cultures over a seven-day incubation period to check for bacterial growth, and extensive air quality testing.

All other areas of the hospital have been running as normal, including medical imaging, the medical inpatient wards, mental health wards, Hospital in the Home, specialist outpatients clinics and the emergency department.

For more information, women booked to give birth at Calvary Public can call the Birth Suite 24 hours a day on 6201 6034. For general inquiries, call 6201 6111.

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