It will be another six months before the maiden sod is turned on the official $73 million Macksville Hospital build, but today was the first day that the project felt palpable.
“This has been seven years in the making,” councillor Janine Reed said.
“We were lucky because this site was made for us by the construction of the freeway.
A lot of serendipitous events have led to this announcement.
Today Local Health District dignitaries met with local Member Melinda Pavey and Nambucca councillors for the official announcement of the hospital’s new base beside the Pacific Highway, three kilometres north of the Macksville town centre.
The new greenfield site will occupy the current government-owned prefabricated concrete batching plant along Old Coast Rd, near the Mattick Rd overpass, and will offer patients a clear view to the ocean from its lofty perch.
“We’re on a Noah’s Ark site – a one-in-10,000 years’ flood site,” Mrs Pavey said.
“The new site is going to be better located between the two major population centres.
“And it’s also going to be close to that freeway and even closer to Coffs Harbour.
“The designs will be exhibited to the community in early 2018, and actual works on the new site are on track to begin mid-2018.
WATCH: The official announcement as it unfolded this morning
“The NSW Government is delivering on its election commitment to Macksville and surrounding communities.”
And while the State Government is chalking this up as a win, the Nambucca Shire Council and the Macksville Chamber of Commerce should bask in that glory too.
The Macksville North on ramps to the new highway were one of the legacy items left by council’s own Mike ‘Cactus’ Moran – without which the proposed site for the hospital would have been rendered unfeasible.
And mayor Rhonda Hoban was today publicly acknowledged for her persistence to the cause.
“Rhonda, you kept us honest. The entire way through this you’ve been on our case – quite rightly – fighting for your community,” CE of Mid North Coast Local Health District, Stewart Dowrick said.
Mayor Hoban said the new hospital would provide better value for money than the original $50 million that was outlaid for the refurbishment of the existing Macksville Hospital campus.
“I think it’s reached it’s used-by date,” Cr Hoban said.
What you’ve really done for us is you’ve future-proofed our community.
The new hospital will offer a major expansion of services and facilities that are currently available to the Nambucca Valley community.
The plans include an emergency department (ER), Community Health centre behind that, a maternity unit beside the ER, a large in-patient ward with commanding views and a second in-patient unit to come in future, an in-patient and out-patient gym, double the number of operating theatres and a 150-space carpark.
The expansion includes plans to increase rehabilitation services and palliative care and will enable a larger intake of ‘sub-acute’ patients, meaning that locals will finally be able to come ‘home’ to convalesce.
Macksville’s David Ainsworth was at this morning’s announcement for a sticky-beak at the new site.
“Because of the size of this site, and its location, I reckon this will turn into a much bigger complex in future,” Mr Ainsworth said.
The impending hospital build is fortuitous timing for local labourers as construction on the Nambucca to Warrell Creek Pacific Highway upgrade wraps up.
Network coordinator for Coffs Clinical Network, Theresa Beswick, has said that the construction phase will make use of local ‘boots on the ground’.
“And not at first, but certainly ultimately, the hospital will require more staff too, and that means another opportunity for local people to be employed if they have the necessary skills,” Dr Beswick said.
There is no news yet what will become of the old Macksville hospital site once everyone moves ‘house’, but there is speculation from on high that it would make a great investment for residential property developers.