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Labor’s bid for Mernda hospital

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Max Davies
Max Davies
Max is a journalist for the North Central Review. He joined the paper as a cadet journalist in 2021 and graduated from La Trobe University in 2023. He takes a keen interest in motorsport and the automotive industry.

By Max Davies

Health Minister Mary-Anne Thomas visited the site of the planned City of Whittlesea Community Hospital in Mernda last week to view project plans and discuss the needs of the community.

To be funded through the Labor Government’s Community Hospitals Program, the City of Whittlesea Community Hospital would provide a range of integrated community health and specialist services, including after-hours care for non-emergency medical issues.

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Ms Thomas’ visit comes after a Liberal-Nationals Coalition pledge of $300 million last week to build the Plenty Valley Hospital at the same site in Mernda if it formed government after the state election on November 26.

“They are all under-costed and underfunded. There’s no way you can build a 100-bed hospital for $300 million, who are they kidding? Where is the money coming from?” Ms Thomas said.

“Only our government has the track record of delivering the health services that Victorians need and servicing the needs of growing communities like [Mernda] and across the electorate of Yan Yean.”

Labor first pledged to build the Whittlesea community hospital at the 2018 election, with plans to start construction in 2022. The exact cost of the hospital has not been revealed.

Last month, Premier Daniel Andrews visited the site, revealing designs that highlighted the facility’s exteriors, main reception and waiting area.

Set to be located on Plenty Road at Mernda and operated by Northern Health, the community hospital is designed to take the pressure off bigger hospitals nearby and allow them to focus on critical care, acute health issues, emergency care and more complex surgeries and procedures.

The City of Whittlesea Community Hospital is part of a series of community hospitals planned for construction across the state, all of which will work in partnership with major hospitals in their respective areas.

“Our 10 community hospitals that are being built are being built in some of the fastest-growing areas of Victoria, including here in the City of Whittlesea,” Ms Thomas said.

“The community hospitals all have a relationship with a large acute care hospital. The relationship with the City of Whittlesea Community Hospital is with the Northern Hospital at Epping.”

The community hospital is expected to enable people to access care close to home, including for dialysis, receiving chemotherapy, and caring for minor medical issues to eliminate the need to travel to a major hospital.

Labor candidate for Yan Yean Lauren Kathage said the community hospital would create greater flexibility for residents and open up opportunities for health workers.

“When I’ve spoken to people in the community about the works having started on our community hospital, people are excited for their family’s healthcare, and then when I meet healthcare workers they’re excited to know when jobs will be advertised because they’re keen to work locally,” she said.

“We don’t comment, we commit, and we don’t just commit, we complete. This will be completed if Labor is re-elected.”

Ms Kathage said the hospital was designed to create safe and comfortable environments for staff, patients and families through community consultation.

“We’ve got a lot of young families in this area, and I know what it’s like as a mum to worry after the GP closes and your child is sick and you don’t know what to do, you’re trying to weigh up whether to go to the Northern [Hospital] so this provides a local option for times like that,” Ms Kathage said.

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