$4.4 million for Benalla Health

April 19, 2017

‘Thrilled beyond words’: Minister for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes officially announces $4.4 million to extend Benalla Health’s Morrie Evans wing with Morrie Evans Nurse Unit Manager Nathan Willoughby, Benalla Health CEO Janine Holland and Director Clinical Services Maree Woodhouse.

Benalla Health has received the largest single government grant in its history — nearly $4.4 million dollars in state government funding for construction of a new wing in the Morrie Evans aged-care facility, a new defibrillator monitor, a portable ultrasound and upgrading of IT.

Benalla Health chief executive Janine Holland said she was ‘‘thrilled beyond words’’.

The funding will mean the facility, which historically has had four residents per room, will ultimately have 30 one-bed rooms complete with an ensuite each.

Works are already under way converting some rooms to two beds each, but the new funding will mean that will now be superseded by single-bed rooms.

‘‘Building will commence later on this year, we hope,’’ Ms Holland said.

‘‘It will got to tender and then the board (of Benalla Health) will endorse the preferred builder and we’ll start.’’

Labor Upper House Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes said the funding of $4396640 was through the first round of the Labor Government’s new Regional Health Infrastructure Fund.

‘‘The $200 million fund — the largest of its kind in history — supports country hospitals to purchase necessary equipment, update IT and communications and build new facilities, so that the hard-working doctors, nurses and staff can get on with doing what they do best, caring for our community and saving lives,’’ Ms Symes said.

‘‘Benalla Health will now be able to purchase a new defibrillator monitor and portable ultrasound device to improve patient management and outcomes, as well as reduce the incidents of emergency ambulance transfer to North East Health Wangaratta for vascular access and diagnostic testing.

‘‘Funding has also been provided to replace the ageing information and communications technology, that are so important to support the effective clinical operations of Benalla Health.’’

Almost $2 million will be spent to improve the Morrie Evans Wing of the hospital, with the construction of new buildings consisting of 16 single rooms with ensuites, sitting and sunroom, nurse offices and store rooms.

Morrie Evans nurse unit manager Nathan Willoughby said the extensions would bring the aged-care facility up to accepted standards.

‘‘It was pretty archaic as far as the conditions we were expecting people to come in and pay money to be in,’’ Mr Willoughby said.

‘‘We’ve progressively upgraded those rooms to shared rooms with ensuites, but this is the cherry on the top.

‘‘This gets us to the point where they (residents) will have privacy, dignity, and they’ll be able to make that space their own.’’

This funding follows the $300000 announced by Ms Symes in June last year that upgraded eight Morrie Evans rooms.

The new buildings will join up with the existing Morrie Evans wing and the acute care ward of the hospital making it easier to move between wings and creating more security for staff, residents, patients and visitors.

‘‘I was born at the Benalla Hospital and in recent times have been incredibly grateful for the care Benalla Health gave my grandmothers, so on a personal level I am incredibly proud to help give back to this wonderful facility,” Ms Symes said.

‘‘Labor’s investment will secure the future of Benalla Health and make a real difference to the lives of patients who will get the safe, high-quality care and treatment they need.

‘‘Our dedicated Benalla doctors, nurses and support staff are remarkable and Labor is supporting them to do their job, keeping people healthy, by giving them the modern facilities and equipment they need and deserve.

‘‘Morrie Evans becomes the home for many older Benalla locals and this investment delivers modern facilities that will enhance residents wellness, comfort and privacy.’’

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