Proposed new ED entrance sparks safety concerns from Garran residents

Ian Bushnell 25 October 2019 43
Garran resident Jennifer Berget

Garran resident Jennifer Berget fears for the safety of school children. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The long-awaited half-billion-dollar Canberra Hospital expansion project has hit another roadblock with Garran residents fearing plans to move the Emergency Department entrance away from Yamba Drive to opposite the primary school will put their children at risk.

The new ED is to be located on the corner of Palmer Street and Gilmore Crescent near Garran Primary School, and ambulances will access the ED via Palmer Street.

Long-time Garran resident and school parent Jennifer Berget said residents were concerned about the traffic increase, including ambulances rushing to the ED, and the safety of children walking and riding to school.

“The corner of Palmer Street and Gilmore Crescent is bad enough as it is. We don’t want it to get any worse,” she said.

With drop-off and pick-up times already a bit chaotic, Garran was one of the first schools to get a crossing supervisor.

“I’ve had to pull children back off zebra crossings because cars didn’t stop,” she said.

Ms Berget said it did not seem logical to move the ED entrance away from a main arterial road to a residential street.

She said the community felt blindsided by the announcement at a meeting on 26 September and the Garran Residents Association had launched a petition calling for the government to reconsider.

“People were shocked that ambulances would be accessing the new ED opposite their driveway,” she said.

Ms Berget said there were also concerns for ambulance staff taking patients to hospital having to negotiate the area.

Canberra Liberals health spokesperson Vicki Dunne said the government had not thought through the situation and needed to either take action to ameliorate the problem or relocate the SPIRE project to a different site.

The current ED entrance

Ambulances will use Palmer Street to access the proposed new Emergency Department. Photo: George Tsotsos.

“Canberra Hospital has the third biggest emergency room in the country and when you look at peer hospitals none of those hospitals has a major entry point on a suburban road,” Mrs Dunne said.

“None have a major entry point across the road from a primary school with over 600 children.”

She said there were about 100 ambulance movements a day in and out of Accident and Emergency, with 20,000 arrivals last year. The proposed entrance was possibly the worst location in terms of interface with lots of vulnerable road users.

Mrs Dunne said with the project at such an early stage and construction not due to start until 2021, there was still time for the government to make changes.

She would not say whether the government should hold off on the project until after next year’s election but said with such a large amount of money at stake the government needed to get the hospital expansion right. But Mrs Dunne said the Opposition would not be in the business of tearing up contracts if it won power next year.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the ACT Government had only begun consulting with Garran residents and she had written to the president of the school board and the Residents Association on Wednesday.

She said Major Projects Canberra was doing detailed work to understand the net traffic impact of the SPIRE project, given that there would be quite a lot of traffic redirected as a result of existing activities moving from the site.

“As soon as the traffic study is done we’ll share it with the community and work though it,” she said.

Ms Berget, who has grown up in the shadow of the hospital, said she and the Garran community were acutely aware of its needs but “as a mum I believe it’s everybody’s responsibility to look after the safety of children and to prioritise that, and I’d like the government to prioritise that that as well”.

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43 Responses to Proposed new ED entrance sparks safety concerns from Garran residents
Carl Ostermann Carl Ostermann 10:10 pm 26 Oct 19

Ask the emergency services... They would have a better knowledge on the safety on the kids than the ignorant parents.

    Row Nel Row Nel 1:01 pm 27 Oct 19

    And what are your qualifications to make your opinion more valid?

    Carl Ostermann Carl Ostermann 8:44 pm 28 Oct 19

    Rohan Neale I watch and listen... What are your experiences?

    Row Nel Row Nel 12:58 pm 29 Oct 19

    Equal to yours in that regard. Emergency services aren't traffic flow experts either. Are you familiar with the intersection in question? If you were, you'd see the problem.

    Carl Ostermann Carl Ostermann 11:39 pm 30 Oct 19

    Rohan Neale Funny enough I was looking this morning at the intersection and thinking how the ambo's could maneuver through that intersection the way it is set up and That is a concern I reckon.

Mac John Mac John 9:36 pm 26 Oct 19

I understand there was no consultations held with residents or the school community

Travis Martine Travis Martine 8:56 pm 25 Oct 19

Garran residents don't oppose a new emergency department, just the fact it's being moved away from a main arterial road. In what world do you have the emergency department of the biggest hospital in the city (and the third busiest in the country) accessed off a suburban street?! Build the new emergency department where the helipad and staff carpark currently is on the corner of Yamba Drive and Kitchener with access off Yamba.

    Wendy McKenzie Wendy McKenzie 8:48 am 27 Oct 19

    Travis Martine isn't Calvary Hospital ED off a suburban street?

    Tracy Soh Tracy Soh 9:34 am 27 Oct 19

    Wendy McKenzie - Calvary Hospital ED is accessed via Mary Potter Cct, a loop street that only services the hospital buildings. There are no homes and no schools on Mary Potter Cct. Mary Potter Cct comes directly off Haydon Drive which is a major arterial road.

Grimm Grimm 5:57 pm 25 Oct 19

Look at ‘Karen’ in the photo there, gagging to speak to the manager.

Screw people seriously injured and dying! I don’t like it!

Martin Miller Martin Miller 10:53 am 25 Oct 19

The ACT Government should consider moving the primary school to the corner Kitchener St And Robson St. Yes would require a new build but whats 30 million in a $500 million Budget! Plus much safer for students!

Keran Niquet Keran Niquet 8:49 am 25 Oct 19

NIMBY at work again!

    Row Nel Row Nel 8:51 pm 25 Oct 19

    Would you be ok with the third largest emergency department in the country being accessed across the street from your house and your child's school?

Craig Rogerson Craig Rogerson 6:40 am 25 Oct 19

Another monumental planning effort by these clowns. They will keep putting them back in power though

Stephen Matthews Stephen Matthews 5:37 am 25 Oct 19

from what Ive seen theres more danger posed by the way some parents drive at school drop offs and pick ups

Carly Anne Carly Anne 12:20 am 25 Oct 19

Who has right of way at a school crossing? An ambulance with its lights on or a six year old on a bike? Trust the six year old to make the right decision? If you are experiencing a genuine emergency – your baby is blue and not breathing should you be expected to obey the 40km signs as you desperately navigate the back streets for the emergency entrance? Surely it is in the interest of the community as a whole that an emergency department for one of the busiest hospitals in the country remain in its known location off a main arterial road? Because even if you think the residents of Garran are just been precious that may be you one day trying to find Palmer street while rushing a loved one to emergency at school pick up time.

Cary Elliot Johnson Cary Elliot Johnson 10:05 pm 24 Oct 19

Bwahaha. Garran Primary School parents are LITERALLY the worst of any drivers. Every morning and afternoon, THEY are the majority driving WELL OVER the posted 40km/hr speed limit.

Steve Aust Steve Aust 10:01 pm 24 Oct 19

If I was a patient in the back of an ambulance the last thing I want is to go thru the suburban back streets, over speed humps & stopping at school crossings to get to the ED! This is bad for patients & the residents of Garran.

Kel Spnce Kel Spnce 9:53 pm 24 Oct 19

Will be a great learning experience for the children - situational awareness

Claire Wilson Kaspura Claire Wilson Kaspura 9:37 pm 24 Oct 19

Children are at risk already with Gilmore Crescent almost a car park and with children’s crossing so close to Palmer St intersection. Gilmore also a bus route. Why not build a safer entrance to the school from Robson street

    Steve Aust Steve Aust 9:50 pm 24 Oct 19

    Claire Wilson Kaspura - interesting idea (Robson St)

Jonno Hasselhoff Jonno Hasselhoff 9:21 pm 24 Oct 19

It is inevitable that the hospital will take over the primary school site.

Dave Lenihan Dave Lenihan 8:35 pm 24 Oct 19

The Hospital development is far more important than some NIMBY's angst.

    Row Nel Row Nel 8:57 pm 25 Oct 19

    Nobody is opposed to improving the hospital. People are opposed to moving the access road for the emergency department from a major arterial road to a residential street near the primary school.

    Travis Martine Travis Martine 10:56 pm 25 Oct 19

    Yep, genius plan - let's expand the capacity of the emergency department but move the access to point to a single lane suburban street and away from the main arterial road.

    Dave Lenihan Dave Lenihan 12:20 am 26 Oct 19

    Yeah, cause once you turn off Yamba Drive, it's a four lane freeway to the ED front door.

    Diane Asenoguan Diane Asenoguan 1:31 am 26 Oct 19

    Dave Lenihan. Upgrading and expanding the Hospital's Emergency Dept including the ancillary services is necessary. I don't believe the proposed site has been well thought out, bit it is however most likely the cheapest option suggested. Knocking down an antiquated building to build another has merit, bit not for these kinds of services. It would be better to take out building 2 and do it there with closer links to other services required to support patients in Emergency.

    Row Nel Row Nel 6:48 am 26 Oct 19

    Dave, yes. The road is smaller once you exit Yamba drive. It's adequate for traffic flows. The point people are making is where that road is accessed. Palmer street on the Gilmore St intersection is a terrible idea.

    Tracy Soh Tracy Soh 1:57 pm 26 Oct 19

    Dave Lenihan - currently once you turn off Yamba Drive you're on hospital campus on an internal hospital road that is not shared with homes or a primary school.

Nathan Horton Nathan Horton 8:22 pm 24 Oct 19

Close the school. Use the land for the hospital and new residential development. Problem solved.

    Row Nel Row Nel 8:46 pm 25 Oct 19

    And where do the 600 kids go?

    Johanna Kemp Johanna Kemp 1:32 am 27 Oct 19

    Hughes Primary is just down the road

    Row Nel Row Nel 6:58 am 27 Oct 19

    Whiles Hughes is an excellent school, they are in no way able to fit an additional 600+ students in with the current 450 children.

Lexie Donald Lexie Donald 7:41 pm 24 Oct 19

Move the primary school


Johno Bakker Johno Bakker 6:42 pm 24 Oct 19

I have more concerns for the people needing to be at the hospital!

Lynne Audsley Lynne Audsley 6:36 pm 24 Oct 19

I think that is a legitimate concern.

Virginia Luks Virginia Luks 6:23 pm 24 Oct 19

That road is a thoroughfare - I wouldn't think it would impact on Garran Primary.

    Tracy Soh Tracy Soh 8:35 pm 25 Oct 19

    Gilmore Rd is not a thoroughfare. It is a suburban street with home on it.

    Row Nel Row Nel 8:45 pm 25 Oct 19

    Are you familiar with the area, Virginia? Gilmore rd is a loop through a suburb.

    Virginia Luks Virginia Luks 8:47 pm 25 Oct 19

    Rohan Used to live in Garran and now live in Hughes so yes thanks for asking, very familiar!

    Row Nel Row Nel 8:53 pm 25 Oct 19

    I suggest you have another look at 8.50 am on a weekday. Imagine the extra traffic the proposed entry point would cause. Palmer street residents have ity bad enough as it is. Yes, it's a residential thoroughfare. It's not an access road capable of providing sensible and safe access to an emergency department for half a million people.

    Tracy Soh Tracy Soh 2:03 pm 26 Oct 19

    Rohan - technically I don't think Gilmore can be considered a residential thoroughfare as both ends come off Kitchener so it doesn't traverse from one street to another. It is a suburban loop street.

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