Sutherland Hospital Fiftieth Anniversary

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SpeakersCollier Mr Barry
BusinessPrivate Members Statements, PRIV

Page: 7769

Mr BARRY COLLIER (Miranda—Parliamentary Secretary) [6.10 p.m.]: This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of Sutherland Hospital. If there is one institution that encapsulates the determination and commitment of the people of the shire, our sense of community and belonging, as well as the spirit of the shire's magnificent volunteers, it is our Sutherland Hospital. The history of the Sutherland Hospital is a history of dedication and service by doctors, nurses, staff, administrators and volunteers. History shows that a deputation of shire locals first met the Labor Health Minister in 1942. The first hospital board was elected in 1944 at a public meeting at the Sutherland School of Arts. At that time the shire population was a mere 26,000 and the nearest hospital was St George. Tenders were called for the construction of the hospital in 1949, and Labor Premier Joe Cahill laid the foundation stone for the hospital on 3 September 1950.

There were extensive delays as a result of the post-war shortage of building materials, with steel actually being imported from the United Kingdom. But even then the shire community got behind its embryonic hospital, raising some £42,000 towards the cost of £1.5 million. On 29 March 1958, the Labor Health Minister Billy Sheahan officially opened the new hospital. Among the 8,000- strong crowd was a young local boy by the name of Michael Egan. The first patient was admitted on 21 April 1958 and the first baby was born on 22 April 1958. That first child began something of what has become a shire tradition, with people born at our hospital planning to have their own children at the same hospital. Among the first patients at the hospital was shire resident Mrs Joyce Hanley, who recently told the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader:

      All the nurses wore veils and white pinafores and they were all so bright, cheery and helpful.
The uniforms of the nurses have changed but their commitment and dedication to all patients at our hospital remains as strong and as reassuring as ever. The commitment of State Labor Governments to provide new modern services and facilities at our Sutherland Hospital has been just as strong. In 1984, under the Wran Government, a $20 million project saw a 30-bed children's ward, a 30-bed psychiatric ward and new operating theatres come into being. 1998 saw the opening of a new $5 million Accident and Emergency Department by Premier Bob Carr. I vividly recall the many shire community groups, including the Wood Turners from Oyster Bay who had raised funds for equipment in the new facility. It was the Carr Government that undertook the $82.9 million redevelopment of the Sutherland Hospital.

On 22 February 2001, along with the then member for Heathcote, I turned the first sod and looked on with staff as the demolition of the old nurses home began to make way for a three-storey ward block and clinical services building on The Kingsway. I am privileged to say that on my watch as local member of Parliament the Sutherland Hospital has gone from strength to strength, adding new services and facilities for the 215,00 shire residents. We have added a day surgery unit, a day respite facility for frail, aged and dementia patients, and a specialist stroke unit. We have completed two $5 million cardiac catheterisation laboratories at the hospital and added a joint replacement surgery unit.

In 2005, I had the privilege of opening the new garden kiosk and thanking our dedicated volunteers. In 2006, we completed a $5 million community health centre. In 2008, Premier Iemma opened a $1.8 million 12-chair renal dialysis unit. An $8.2 million 20-bed non-acute mental health unit is underway. We have added extra parking and have plans for a 112-bed aged care facility on the hospital grounds. Labor governments have delivered the building, the development and the redevelopment of our hospital—adding new services and facilities. But our hospital is much more than building and facilities. Our hospital is about people and I sincerely thank all those, past and present, who have contributed so much in so many ways to making our hospital the first-class health facility it is today. The doctors, nurses, support staff, and administrators in every capacity are the backbone of our hospital and I thank them sincerely.

I also thank the many thousands of volunteers over the years who have generously given their time and energy to the hospital, making a very real difference in every capacity. I cannot mention them all but some names readily come to mind: the late Aileen Griffiths, OAM, a volunteer for over 58 years; Shirley Chirgwin, OAM, a volunteer for 48 years; the late Bruno Riccio, OAM, who raised more than $1 million for the hospital and the Victor Chang Foundation; Evelyn Thompson, OAM, the driving force behind the hospital's Twilight Committee for over 20 years; and Lorna Stone, who led the Highfield Committee from 1984 to 1998. The list goes on. I am told there are now more than 700 volunteers assisting our hospital, including our wonderful pink ladies. I thank them all.

I also note the many donors and benefactors to the hospital, including Mr Bill Gilmour, who donated $326,000 towards our new dialysis unit. The shire is proud of its hospital. We have a first-class, comprehensive health campus, thanks to Labor governments and the people of the shire. Together we look forward to another half century of service by our wonderful hospital to the people of our shire. Happy fiftieth birthday, Sutherland Hospital!