THE state government has committed $170 million in additional funding to complete the Wagga Base Hospital redevelopment.
The funding, announced on Wednesday by Health Minister Jillian Skinner, is earmarked for the third and final stage for the project and will bring government spending on the hospital to more than $450 million.
Stage three will see the old hospital building demolished to make way for a new sub-acute facility offering rehabilitation, renal dialysis, BreastScreen, community mental health, additional dental care and primary and community health services.
Extra car parking will be added to the Wagga Base Hospital site as part of the final stage of its redevelopment.
The funding is contingent on the Coalition being re-elected in March and will be added to the budget in the coming term of parliament.
Since stepping into the health portfolio some 20 years ago as a shadow minister, Mrs Skinner has worked hard to secure a new hospital for Wagga and said yesterday marked another significant milestone on that journey.
"I always promised this, that we would do the whole job and I've been saying this since 1995," she said.
"This has been a career move for me."
The funding announcement came during Mrs Skinner's visit to the hospital redevelopment site to mark the topping out of the new acute services building, currently under construction as part of stage two.
Murrumbidgee Local Health District has welcomed the additional $170 million to finish the hospital.
Chief executive Jill Ludford said the final stage of the project included everything the health district had asked for.
"I'm really delighted to say all of our wishlist has been ticked," she said.
"Everything we have desired and wanted is actually incorporated in this funding, so it's really good news."
While the focus of the final stage may have moved away from its initial emphasis on education facilities, Mrs Ludford said the new sub-acute building would provide resources for teaching the next generation of medical specialists.
"It's really important we've got lecture theatres, simulation training and state-of-the-art teaching facilities, which helps us to grow our own workforce for the future," she said.
PIECE by piece, the new Wagga Base Hospital acute building edges closer to completion.
On Wednesday, the building was officially topped out at a height of around 30 metres - all that remains now for the project is to erect its exterior wall panels and fit out its interior.
The Advertiser was given a sneak peak at a prototype for the patient rooms to be installed inside the hospital, which feature a modern, bright look.
Features of the new rooms include muted colours to inspire a sense of calm, an array of powerpoints and other tools installed into the headboards, angular walls to allow nurses to unobtrusively check on patients, and expansive windows to let natural light in.
The lead interior designer on the project, Billard Leece Partnership director Tara Veldman, said the team had opted for the wide windows to aid patient recovery.
"There's a lot of evidence around natural light for patient recovery," she said.
"They just feel better in a room with daylight in it."
More than 200 hospital staff have visited the prototype room in the past week and have offered their feedback on the design, which the redevelopment's executive manager Irene Hing said had been positive.
"We've even had comments from staff, 'can we move in right now?'," she said.
On the actual site, the Hansen Yuncken project team is starting to see the end in sight for the main hospital building after nearly three years on site.
Hansen Yuncken senior project manager John Hunt said as a regionally based hospital, the Wagga redevelopment had been one of the company's more complex assignments.
"Probably the biggest challenge is just getting enough people here to construct it on time," he said.
The redevelopment has about 250 construction staff on site working to complete stage two of the redevelopment by early next year.
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