Crookwell Hospital’s new emergency department has increased the number of treatment beds, injecting tremendous positivity into the community.
In addition to four more patient rooms, improvements included a new waiting area that is more easily accessible to the public and ambulances via an entrance positioned before the existing main entrance.
Further upgrades were to medical equipment including ECG machines, a defibrillator and a transport ventilator, refreshed internal fit out and improvements to the Wellness Centre, which provides pathways to healthier lifestyles for its residents.
“Our hospital is very well regarded and appreciated by the community,” Hospital Community Consultative Committee (CCC) chair Darian Cameron said.
The committee acts as an advisory and consultative group to plan and develop local health services at the Crookwell Hospital. They made recommendations to Southern NSW Local Health District for the ED.
For the past 115 years, the Hospital has provided health services to residents across the Upper Lachlan Shire. Many of those are farmers living on rural properties.
“We have a large catchment area in the Upper Lachlan Shire. Our hospital and emergency department are very necessary for covering emergencies for our communities, town and rural, and the many visitors we have to the Shire,” Ms Cameron said.
This was the Hospital’s first significant upgrade after many years of significant closures by Southern NSW Local Health District including maternity and surgery, which closed in 1999 and 2003 respectively.
Southern NSW Health’s reasons for closing the operating theatre were safety, due to a hospital generator failure during a blackout, and changes to safety and quality of services standards for clinical practices.
When the operating theatre was closed, member for Burrinjuck Katrina Hodgkinson raised concerns in parliament.
“The decision to close the operating theatre was made with what I can only describe as indecent haste and with little real consultation with the local community,” she said.
Some argue the growing population of the regional shire in the southern tablelands has placed increasing pressure on the Hospital. Many travel long distances to larger hospitals in Goulburn, Canberra or Bowral for treatment and specialist consultations.
However, the ED upgrade has given the community confidence that the hospital would retain acute care treatment and community health services.
Dianne Layden OAM is the author of A Good Pair of Hands: Midwives in the Crookwell Shire, a historical account of the births in the Upper Lachlan Shire between 1881 and 1945 as well as a member of the CCC.
“The hospital has been such a central part of Crookwell,” she said.
“Things change with the services and we always used to say we lost them, with maternity and theatre. And even though it was a blow to the community in hindsight the theatre did need a lot of new equipment.
“We have gained a tremendous amount with community health… we are moving in a different direction.”
She added that the new ED would lead to more health professional recruitment and retention.
The former hospital was officially opened in 1906 and it grew quite sizeable to include a general ward and nurses’ quarters and plans included an operating theatre.
In 1944, then member for Goulburn Laurie Tully took the move for a new hospital to the government.
Mr Tully laid the foundation stone of the new hospital in May 1950.
A newspaper report stated, “Mr Tully had taken the fight for a new hospital in Crookwell right up to the Government and it was his persistence backed by the constant prodding by the hospital board that finally won the day”.
Fast forward to today and the recent upgrades were included in the state budget after community members took the fight to the government in 2019. It was overwhelmingly backed by Upper Lachlan Shire residents.
Member for Goulburn Wendy Tuckerman was joined by NSW Health and hospital staff officials in April this year to officially open the $2.5 million upgrades to the Crookwell Hospital.
“I am particularly pleased to be here today to see the completion of the hospital upgrade as one of my 2019 election commitments to deliver a new ED and refurbished Wellness Centre for the Crookwell region,” she said.