THE planets are finally aligning and the city’s long-held dream of its own private hospital is tantalisingly close to being realised.
An announcement in May of an $11.3 million funding injection from the federal government, coupled with $3 million each from council, the Casella/Spagnolo consortium and hospital operators St Vincent’s, has left just an $800,000 shortfall before the facility is fully funded.
Plans for the hospital are being finalised and a development application has been approved.
Tenders for construction work are set to go out by the end of this year and the first sod is expected to be turned soon after. The hospital will also include a medical training facility, to be run in conjunction with Wollongong University.
Roy Spagnolo from the Casella/Spagnolo consortium:
The private hospital will be a great benefit to the community on a number of levels. Obviously, the main benefit will be attracting visiting specialists.
Locals are always travelling to Wagga, Albury, Sydney or Melbourne to see specialists and this will stop a lot of that. Many of these specialists will also service public patients while they are in Griffith. Having a training school alongside the hospital will also expand services by giving student doctors and nurses a chance to work in the public and private hospital.
It will also have the benefit of helping attract more residents to Griffith. The first thing people doing a tree-change look at is the medical and education facilities in a town. This offers both.
The hospital will draw in patients from surrounding areas and this will be a boost to local business. The actual construction of the hospital will bring a cash influx to Griffith, especially for tradies.
Much of the political heavy lifting has already been done to take the private hospital from concept to fruition. Councillors Mike Neville, Anne Napoli and Dom Testoni deserve credit and gratitude for many years of campaigning.
But while the facility is now certain to proceed, there remains a funding black hole of $800,000.
Councillors should be taking more of a lead role in helping drive the community to raise these funds. Just as importantly, councillors must sell the message that the private hospital is not just for the wealthy elite but will have benefits for the entire community.