After decades of lobbying and years of planning and building, Wagga finally has a new, state-of-the-art public hospital.
The $282.1 million Wagga Rural Referral Hospital acute services building was officially opened on Wednesday.
Patients will be moved in to the new facility in mid-January.
Murrumbidgee Local Health District chief executive Jill Ludford said it had been a long road to the new hospital’s opening and Wednesday’s events were a landmark occasion for the city’s health services.
“This magnificent hospital will benefit not only the residents of Wagga, but the entire region,” she said.
“The new facility will enable us to introduce new and world-class care aimed at providing the best possible healthcare services for our community.”
The seven-storey building includes numerous features and items of equipment not present in the old hospital, including digital operating theatres, a helipad and an MRI machine, as well as an expanded emergency department.
Its completion marks the completion of the second phase of the overall hospital redevelopment.
Phase one of the project, completed in October 2013, saw the opening of a 50-bed mental health unit adjacent to the site of the new acute services building.
The next step for the project will be to knock down the old tower building, estimated to be finished late next year, before a new entry forecourt and car park are built by the middle of 2017.
Speaking after the hospital’s official opening on Wednesday, state Health Minister Jillian Skinner, who has spent two decades in the health portfolio in both opposition and government, said it had been one of her “proudest days” in her job.
“I started working with this community, particularly the clinicians, in 1995 to get this new hospital,” she said.
“To see this beautiful clinical services block open today is really something.”
The new hospital was jointly funded between the state and federal governments.
Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley said the new building was an “amazing” facility that would lead the way in healthcare in the region.
“What this hospital does is lift the standard of rural clinical practice to a level it hasn’t been before,” she said.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.