Goulburn Health Hub, located in the city’s suburb of Bradfordville, will be the site of a major development during the next few years.
The organisation will spend millions of dollars to build a three-theatre day surgery unit and about 40 retirement houses at the rear of the existing medical practice.
The hub previously gained development approval for the $10 million day surgery unit and now has zoning approval for retirement housing, a nature reserve and a potential rehabilitation or mental health facility.
Practice manager Sophie Ashton and her husband, Sartaj Hans, who is also the hub’s director, came up with the latest plans after their original idea to build a hospital and aged care centre behind the practice was knocked back in 2019.
That push back was based on concerns raised by the NSW State Emergency Service about flooding from the nearby Wollondilly River and the ability to safely remove elderly or ill patients in such an event.
Ms Ashton said it was disappointing after starting the rezoning process in 2014, but that it has resulted in a better outcome.
“It is two years later than we would have hoped for, but now we are in a position to fund the build of a day surgery and manage the operation of a day surgery with the assistance of people who have done it before,” she said.
Ms Ashton sees the need for day surgery for elective patients, and retirement housing for couples and individuals who are in between independent living and aged care.
“During the years I’ve interacted with a lot of specialists and surgeons who want to operate in the day surgery,” she said.
These people would also be able to move off the site in the event of a one-in-300-year flood.
“There is a direct path via road to a safe zone, and because it is a day surgery, we’re not taking really frail patients overnight or for long periods of time,” said Ms Ashton.
She also sees the benefits of a rehabilitation centre onsite for patients recovering from hip or knee replacements, or a mental health unit that would meet demand in an area where there is a lack of psychology services.
Ms Ashton and Mr Hans are still deciding how the additional health facility can best benefit the people of Goulburn.
The couple opened the hub in 2013 to bring back health services missing from Goulburn, which meant patients had previously been forced to travel to Canberra or Sydney for treatment.
The hub now has more than 55 visiting specialists offering services for ear, nose and throat; dermatology; paediatric; rheumatology; psychology; specialist pain; and other services that weren’t previously available in Goulburn.
There are also seven part-time GPs and a pharmacy, hydro pool and cafe.
Ms Ashton and Mr Hans hope to begin construction of the day surgery later in 2021, and finish in 2022.