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Clarence Health Services General Manager Dan Madden smiles proudly as Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis cuts the ribbon to officially open the new Grafton Base Hospital Ambulatory Care Centre. Image: contributed.

New $17.5 million facelift for Grafton Base Hospital

Last year he had a shovel in his hand, but fast forward to August 13 and Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis held a pair of scissors as he cut the ribbon and officially opened the new Grafton Base Hospital Ambulatory Care Centre.

After helping to turn the first sod at the start of construction in April 2019, Mr Gulaptis said the completed project is a celebration of a massive improvement for the local hospital.

Out-patient Ellen Mulherin goes through her exercises in the new physiotherapy room at the upgraded Grafton Base Hospital Ambulatory Care Centre under the watchful eye of physiotherapist Melissa Burns. Image: Emma Pritchard.

Describing the centre as a “terrific twenty-first century facility”, Mr Gulaptis said the upgrades will ensure Clarence Valley residents have access to the best available medical treatment in a caring and quality environment.

“The old services were outdated and cramped and the new centre delivers the health care services that our patients really need,” he said.

“The oncology and renal dialysis services have been expanded, creating more space to give patients and staff a better environment to receive and deliver treatment.

“It’s very important for patients to know they can access a state-of-the-art facility in their local area.”

The upgrade was funded by the NSW Government as part of their commitment to health care services in the Clarence Valley. Patients with chronic health conditions can be treated in safety while receiving the highest quality care in an outpatient environment which keeps them out of hospital.

After a traditional welcome to country by the local Bundjalung community to officiate the opening, dignitaries and visiting guests were invited to tour the new facility

Dan Madden, Clarence Health Services General Manager said visitors were extremely impressed by what they saw and full of praise for the two-storey building.

“It’s tremendous to already be receiving such encouraging feedback,” he said.

Mr Madden said the new centre consolidates the ambulatory care services which were previously “at all points of the compass”, at Grafton Base Hospital to make them easily accessible to patients in a safe and comfortable setting.

Local outpatient Ellen Mulherin, was busy concentrating on her exercises with physiotherapist Melissa Burns in the comforts of the updated centre during it’s official opening.

In between leg raises, she said the new facility was “very good.”

Proud Bundjalung man Dean Loadsman initiates a smoking ceremony at the opening of the Grafton Base Hospital Ambulatory Care Centre to cleanse bad spirits and call good spirits to the site. Image: Emma Pritchard.

Chief Executive of the Northern NSW Local Health District Wayne Jones said the Ambulatory Care Centre provides a wide range of clinical services including oncology, chemotherapy, speech pathology, occupational therapy, a renal dialysis unit, obstetric and gynaecology clinics and out-patient clinics for patients with chronic conditions such as cardiac and respiratory rehabilitation services.

“It was absolutely essential to get this facility,” he said.

“The Clarence Valley has an aging community, many have a lot of chronic conditions and before this facility we had out-patient clinics scattered around the hospital which was financially and therapeutically inefficient as we had people coming into the hospital for care because they couldn’t get adequate out-patient care.

“What we have now is a purpose designed, out-patient unit that allows people to maintain their health and stay out of hospital while receiving the care they deserve.

“Hospitals are great when you’re sick, but if you can avoid coming in, that’s even better.”