With the appointment of Blight Blight and Blight, architects, to undertake the preparation of the master plan for the Daylesford Hospital, Maree Cuddihy, CEO of Central Highlands Rural Health answers questions about the master planning process.

What do you think about the community campaign to upgrade Daylesford Hospital?

It has been an inspiration to see the groundswell of support from the community for the Daylesford Hospital. This level of support has certainly given me confidence to start the master planning process earlier than originally intended. I thank the Daylesford community for their donations and support.

Progress of the fundraising campaign for the Daylesford Hospital Master Plan

When was Daylesford Hospital Last Upgraded?

In the late 1980s major refurbishment of the Hospital occurred and involved the development of a new theatre wing, 20 acute beds and fifteen nursing home beds. The project was completed in 1990 as a cost of $1.3 million with the state government providing $950 thousand and the balance being raised by the community.

A further project involving a master plan and feasibility plan was completed in October 2003, and comprised a refurbishment and expansion of the Community Health Centre, a new 30 bed Aged Residential Care Unit and a major upgrade of the acute facilities and birthing suite. The cost of the redevelopment was around $6.2 million, and the community contributed $500 thousand.

It looks as though every 20 years a major refurbishment or redevelopment is needed. Here we are again in 2021 with deteriorated facilities that are not commensurate with contemporary standards and/or community expectations of health services.

What are the steps to get an upgrade now?

In order to deliver a long term strategy for contemporary, safe, high quality and sustainable health care delivery, we need to upgrade and consolidate our physical infrastructure. To do this we need a clear vision on how to proceed.

Currently we have no master plan. This means we have limited capacity to undertake strategic infrastructure planning. We have responded to short term needs with additions and refurbishments but what is needed is a broader approach to ensure money is spent on increasing service quality and capacity aligned to our clinical services plan.

Parts of the Daylesford Hospital building date back to the 1800s.

These buildings on the campus are well kept by our staff, but their physical fabric is not fit for the purposes of a contemporary health service. The size and spaces along with the building services and fabric are unable to meet the standards of modern building codes.

What is the priority for upgrade?

Most glaringly are the operating room and sterilizing areas which are in desperate need of a remodelling, refurbishment and installation of up to date sterilizing and other equipment. But pretty much all the rooms in the old hospital are too small and crowded to accommodate modern equipment and current infection control requirements for distancing and ventilation etc.

What will the master plan involve?

The master plan will include a physical assessment of the condition of the existing buildings and engineering infrastructure, a review of current utilization, followed by assessment and recommendations of the functional suitability and adaptability against recommendations in the clinical services plan for future service provision.

How soon can the master plan be finished?

We are hoping the master plan will be finished in January.

What happens after the master plan is finished?

The next steps for us will be to discuss the outcomes of the plan with the Department of Health and hope to gain their agreement to a capital plan for Daylesford Hospital and the wider campus including our community programs.

We are concerned to hear that Ballan Hospital is closing. Could this happen to Daylesford?

No, I don’t think that would happen at all.


Editor’s note: The Master Plan for the hospital reburbishment will be informed by a Service Plan which the hospital has developed. The Service Plan is awaiting final approval by the DHHS. The Wombat Post has requested a copy of the Service Plan and will publish a summary when it is made available.