22 August 2021

Historic mural celebrates Yass Hospital's long life - and good health

| Sally Hopman
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Mural on wall.

This new mural on the wall of the visitors’ waiting area, illustrates the history of the Yass Health Service, from its first days. Photo: Supplied.

Back in October 1847, a representation was made to the then Yass District Warden Mr Henry O’Brien, of Doura, requesting that a hospital be built in the town – and that he come up with a way to make that happen.

Mr O’Brien duly called a town meeting and, in what seemed no time at all, had secured from townsfolk 200 pounds – enough to start the ball rolling once a board of trustees had been elected.

Less than two years later, the Yass Hospital was open for business run by a Goulburn couple – the Kelleys, as wardsman and assistant. Mr Kelley was paid 30 pounds for the first three months and then 35 pounds for the rest of the first year – along with rations.

This story of how Yass’s lifeblood, its hospital, first opened its doors, is now on show for everyone to see in the form of a new eight-metre long heritage mural showcasing 170 years of the Yass Area Health Service.

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The mural features about 40 images and information on the various stages of district health care, right up to the new Yass Hospital redevelopment which was completed last year and opened to the public in October 2020.

The photographic display was developed with the assistance of past and present hospital staff and the Yass District Hospital Community Consultation Committee.

From 1847, the hospital story moves via historic images, through its highs and lows. It didn’t take long for the hospital to grow to a point where it needed more land (1888) with Lord Carrington laying the foundation stone. The mural story board proceeds to the present day and highlights the crucial role the hospital plays in the regional community today.

Senior Project Director, Nic di Condio from the NSW Health Department, said the large wall mural, located in the visitors’ waiting area of the hospital gave visitors a comprehensive look back in time at the hospital – a centre of the Yass community for most of its life.

“The heritage wall will take visitors through the rich history of the local health service from the mid-1800s to the present day and provides an insight into how services have continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of Yass,” Mr di Condio said.

He said the mural began with images of the opening of the original hospital in the late 1800s followed by the construction of an infectious diseases ward in the early 1900s, its conversion to a maternity unit in the 1950s, to today’s recently completed redevelopment.

“The heritage wall highlights the change and advancement of health services for this region,” he said.

He added that the mural also acknowledged many of the dedicated people who were involved in shaping and delivering critical healthcare across the Yass Valley region.

Under the Yass Hospital Redevelopment, the health facility now provides access to 24-hour emergency care, a new Emergency Department with an additional treatment bay and a dedicated ambulance entry.

It has also allowed for an increase in inpatient beds, improved community and allied health facilities, office space and consultation rooms and improved access to x-ray services.

For hospital staff, the development includes purpose-built staff accommodation, landscaping and outdoor spaces.

The Yass Hospital Redevelopment was funded as part of the NSW Government’s $297 million multipurpose service program to provide health and aged care services for small and remote rural communities.

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