Building better health care for the Tablelands

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Atherton Hospital Director of Medical Services Dr Liz Hawkins.

Atherton Hospital’s new Clinical Services Building was officially opened on Thursday 7 September 2023, welcoming patients to the $86.4 million facility.

Patients are now being cared for in the new emergency department, maternity ward and birth suites. The new Clinical Services Building also includes a general medical ward, medical imaging (X-ray), operating and endoscopy theatres and a sterilising unit.

The state-of-the-art facility was designed to replace ageing infrastructure for the Tablelands community, providing additional services and improving patient care.

The Clinical Services Building is a key piece of the large-scale redevelopment at the Atherton Hospital by FKG Group, sitting alongside the Community, Allied and Mental Health Building, a new helipad, and an engineering services building.

Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Leena Singh said the new facility featured modern spaces designed to provide best-practice care.

‘There are now designated patient pick-up and drop-off zones outside the new emergency department and the main entrance to the hospital via Louise St,’ she said.

‘The new ambulance bay entry delivers patients directly into the emergency department for greater patient privacy.

‘There are designated spaces to enable private conversations with families and loved ones, spacious waiting areas and family-friendly zones.

‘Our new birthing facilities and theatres with a day surgical unit increases opportunity for care closer to home.’

More than 80 jobs were created in developing the large-scale project, while close to 20 full-time nurses, pharmacists, administration and operational staff have come on board to work at the new facility.

The maternity ward provides expecting mothers with access to a new water birthing pool, rooms with private ensuite facilities, three separate assessment rooms and a spacious waiting room.

On Monday 4 September, there was an extra special arrival for Rochelle Palmer, who welcomed son Joseph - the first baby born in the new facility.

Ms Palmer said the new maternity ward was ‘absolutely beautiful’.

‘Everything is immaculate, and the staff are amazing,’ she said. ‘The birthing suite with the bath was brilliant. I didn’t need pain management. The suite I’m in right now is overlooking the mountains and the Atherton township. The views are just beautiful.’

Director of Medical Services, Dr Liz Hawkins, said staff were excited to showcase the new facility.

‘The Clinical Services Building has been designed to meet the needs of our community and provides improved physical surroundings, allowing for more streamlined delivery of contemporary care,’ she said.

‘The new emergency department is purpose built for current needs, making it easier to provide efficient and timely care to patients.

‘A greater number of single rooms with ensuite bathrooms will be helpful in meeting the needs of people such as paediatric patients, those requiring isolation, and patients receiving care at the end of life.

‘We provide care to friends, family and neighbours in our community, and this is a privilege as well as a responsibility.

‘We are excited about the opportunities to improve the care we provide with the redevelopment of the Atherton Hospital. This is about the whole community.’

‘We are now in the planning stages to finalise this project, with the refurbishment of inpatient wards in the existing hospital building, creating further capacity for Tablelands residents.’