Griffith resident Sherene Blumer is planning a public rally to save the old Nurses Quarters, after the NSW Government reaffirmed its commitment to demolish the building at a meeting with her on Tuesday.
Ms Blumer also said she is prepared to organise crowd funding of the refurbishment of the building – so it can be once again used as accommodation.
The Nurses Quarters is a now unused building located next to Griffith Base Hospital, which provided accommodation for hospital staff for several decades after 1948. It is to be knocked down to make way for the expansion of a promised new hospital.
Senior management from NSW Health Infrastructure, Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) and the hospital met with Ms Blumer and husband Grant to explain the reasons they’ve made the demolition decision.
“The reasons they gave are that the building is not valuable, but the piece of land it sits on is,” Ms Blumer said.
Ms Blumer said she was also told staff now prefer to live off site, and the building is too remote from the hospital to be integrated into the upgraded part of the hospital.
MLHD Director of Operations Brett Thompson said the Griffith Base Hospital Nurses’ Quarters has been uninhabitable for a number of years due to its size and has not been used as nurses’ accommodation for over a decade.
“The Nurses’ Quarters building was the subject of a heritage report and it found demolition was the best option due to its poor condition,” Mr Thompson said.
“A meeting held on Tuesday, March 6 with key community stakeholders including business, local government, community, and health representatives indicated the general consensus of the group was that the progress of the redevelopment should not be hindered by keeping the old building.”
Ms Blumer, a building designer, remains unconvinced, and wants to lift her campaign up a notch.
She said she will soon announce a time and date for a public rally to ‘show strength of community sentiment’.
“I believe we have enough public support to make a change and to stop the demolition ...” Ms Blumer said.
MLHD says planning for the project is under way, and the demolition of the Nurses’ Quarters will open space on the campus for Stage 1-related works.
Ms Blumer, a building designer, is not convinced by these reasons, and wants to lift her campaign up a notch.
She said she will soon be announcing a time and date for a public rally/meeting, to show the powers that be the strength of community sentiment.
“I believe we have enough public support to make a change and to stop the demolition if we have a loud enough voice with lots of supporters”.
“The petition we started two weeks ago, together with physical copies… has reached a number of 1100 signatures”.
Griffith previously held two public rallies in August last year to protest hospital downgrades.
Opponents of Ms Blumer’s campaign have said it is a “distraction” that could derail the planned new hospital for Griffith, but the builder designer said the new hospital development can progress as scheduled.
“I would like to propose that we halt the demolition at Stage 1; upgrade the building as accommodation that our city of Griffith can use now, until such time that the hospital can no longer fit on the site...”
The building was constructed in 1948… [when] nurses were all single women and were required to retire on marriageNSW Government
“I truly believe that we can update the building from its previous use as accommodation for single nurses to accommodation for staff/patients families/crisis accommodation for not only people in this town but for our surrounding communities too with the support of the community by way of crowdfunding or philanthropic donations by some of the major key businesses.”
It is understood the MLHD also held a meeting on Tuesday with a select group of stakeholders to discuss how new hospital planning is progressing. The Area News and general public were not invited.