New era for Ipswich Hospital
WORK has begun on a two-year project to double the size of Ipswich Hospital's emergency department and create 90 more beds.
Health Minister Geoff Wilson and Member for Ipswich Rachel Nolan were at the hospital yesterday, each armed with sledgehammers, to begin the demolition process.
A large section of the hospital towards the bottom of Denmark Hill will be gutted and refurbished, while the building will also be extended to take up a section of vacant land facing Churchill St, at the eastern end of the precinct.
The $128.7 million hospital extension will not only provide room for a bigger emergency department, but will also house two new wards for surgery inpatients, a dedicated cardiology unit, an expanded rehabilitation unit and additional birth suites.
A new multi-storey car park - to be built on land opposite the hospital on Chelmsford Ave - is also part of the expansion, but work will not begin until next year.
Mr Wilson said the expansion work, which should be completed by 2014, would cater for Ipswich's growth for the next decade.
"This project was brought forward two years due to the faster than expected growth which has occurred in the Ipswich region," Mr Wilson said.
"The information I have is that the hospital will continue to function at full capacity while the work is taking place."
Ms Nolan said refurbishment to the front foyer would be carried out in two parts to ensure continuous access to the hospital.
"The new-look entry will bring together patient access services like a volunteer information booth, pharmacy, reception and accounts payable," she said.
She asked hospital staff, patients and visitors to be patient while work was being completed.
"All of this will help to take the pressure off the hospital's busy emergency department and help patients get the care they need sooner," she said.
Looking further ahead, Mr Wilson said preliminary planning was already under way for a new Ipswich Hospital - a project listed for further consideration under the State Government's Queensland Infrastructure Plan.
Existing hospital services affected by the construction will be relocated, including the dentist, which will close for a week before reopening at Limestone St on November 28.
Project manager Lend Lease has promised it will be in regular contact with hospital staff throughout construction to ensure there is minimum disruption to patients.