Gunnedah District Hospital sees completion of operating theatre upgrade

Gunnedah District Hospital’s operating theatre will be back in action in early June.

“We’re hoping to be actually moved into the operating theatre this week and then we can have 24-hour emergency service and caesareans, but we don’t actually start doing elective surgery until the second of June,” theatre nursing unit manager Tracy Anderson said.

The theatre has been closed since December 2016, when work began on a new Clinical Sterile Supply Department (CSSD).

The existing CSSD was extended and the processing area was renovated to streamline processes and meet full compliance requirements. The operating theatre was also extended to create more space. 

The work is part of a $2 million upgrade for the hospital which is funded by Hunter New England Health’s capital upgrade program. The first stage of the upgrade began in June with the replacement of the roof of the administration and community health block. 

Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson did a walk-through of the upgrade with Health Service manager, Melissa O’Brien, and Ms Anderson on Monday.

“Part of the big thing, part of the development, was making sure that what we call the flow, is appropriate, so anything that’s clean doesn’t go into a dirty area,” Ms O’Brien said.

The newly upgraded area has just received a clinical clean and soon all the equipment can be moved back into the rooms. Technicians are still working on the new sterilisation unit which was installed this week.

Ms O’Brien said she was pleased with the changes and the upgrade was a smooth process.

“I love it. It’s great,” she said.

“Knowing that it meets standards. Knowing it’s an improved environment for our staff and makes it a bit fresher as well for the people who work in there.

“We have accreditation in June and last time the operating theatre was one thing the surveyors made recommendations for.”

Ms Anderson is one of six staff looking forward to getting back into the operating theatre.

“It’s excellent. It’s like we’re actually working in a proper facility where we trained,” she said.

“We’re doing things properly. We’re not having to, ‘Oh, we’ll just squeeze over here and ad-hoc.’ 

“We’re actually complying.”

The theatre nursing unit manager said she hoped the changes would encourage more people to pursue a nursing career.

“I’m hoping that if people see this, they’ll say, ‘Let’s do perioperative nursing’,” she said.

Member for Tamworth, Kevin Anderson said the upgrade was “awesome” and looked “fantastic”.

“This looks like a facility that you would see at any five-star hospital anywhere,” he said.

“How good is it to have these facilities here in Gunnedah? When you think about some of the smaller regional centres that don’t have these facilities, this is outstanding.”

The last phase of the hospital upgrade is already underway, with a new kitchen under construction while the existing kitchen continues to operate. 

Ms O’Brien said the new kitchen would bring the hospital up-to-date with current food safety standards and introduce new technology. She hopes the work will be finished by mid-July.

The Health Service manager said the driveway and car park behind the maternity ward would be closed for about five days while the cement on the driveway is replaced.

“We’re grateful for the patience of the community and staff while all of this is happening,” she said.

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