St John of God Bendigo Hospital celebrates $40 million redevelopment opening

AFTER two years, the $40 million redevelopment of the St John of God Bendigo Hospital is complete. 

Staff and supporters gathered in the hospital’s refurbished atrium on Tuesday to mark the official opening with a blessing, performed by Sandhurst Bishop Leslie Tomlinson.

Since works started in 2015, inpatient bed capacity has increased from 100 to 144, and a new wing was built on Lily Street. 

Two new operating theatres have been constructed, along with a new sterilising department and a theatre recovery area. 

The three existing theatres were fully refurbished, along with all of the hospital’s existing bedrooms, the front entrance, the day procedure unit and the atrium. 

Works also extended to accessibility, with improvements to parking and a lift from Lily Street. 

Full services were maintained throughout, hospital redevelopment director Alastair Greenall said, because the works were undertaken in stages. 

Whether people have got public or private health insurance the community is well served in either hospital.

Darren Rogers, St John of God Bendigo Hospital CEO

St John of God Bendigo Hospital chief executive officer Darren Rogers was hopeful the privately funded project would meet the community’s needs for years to come.

“We’ve got a ground floor that’s empty and that’s future proofing for when we need to open more beds,” he said.

“That will give us another 28 beds.”

He said the 44 beds that opened as part of the upgrade were already in use.

“It’s a busy hospital and we definitely needed to put extra beds on, and extra capacity as well,” Mr Rogers said. 

“We are already seeing an uptake of services that we can now offer, such as bariatric surgery, which is a new service to Bendigo.”

The upgrade comes less than five months after the opening of the city’s new public hospital, part of the ongoing $630 million Bendigo Hospital Project.

“Whether people have got public or private health insurance, the community is well served in either hospital,” Mr Rogers said. 

“I don’t wish people to be here from a medical point of view, but I hope that those who use our facilities feel comfortable and cared for, and can see that we are more than a hospital.”

St John of God Bendigo Hospital volunteers Margaret Hermens, Alison Cooper and Lesley Mein. Picture: NONI HYETT

St John of God Bendigo Hospital volunteers Margaret Hermens, Alison Cooper and Lesley Mein. Picture: NONI HYETT

Pride, joy at $40 million upgrade

ALISON Cooper's children consider the St John of God Bendigo Hospital her second home. 

The 81-year-old is one of the hospital’s longest serving volunteers, it’s archivist, and one of the founders of its auxiliary, which she has also served as secretary for 44 years.

Standing in the atrium on Tuesday for the official opening of the $40 million redevelopment, she reflected on all the various forms in which she’s known the hospital. 

Mrs Cooper recalls the original Mount Alvernia Hospital, and the ‘new’ hospital that opened in the ’70s.

She was part of the hospital community when it became known as Mount Alvernia Mercy, and then St John of God Hospital from 2005 onwards.

She has been a patient in the hospital, and given birth to her children there. 

“It’s great, how it’s grown,” Mrs Cooper said.

The hospital has more than 180 volunteers, many of whom were present at Tuesday’s ceremony.