Detailed plans for Australia's first comprehensive centre for veterans' and their families unveiled
A comprehensive centre of mental and physical health services for Australian war veterans and their families will be at the heart of the first stage of Concord Hospital’s major redevelopment.
The National Centre for Veterans' Healthcare will offer unique model of care, integrating a range of specialist outpatient services for mental and physical health and rehabilitation to assess, manage, treat and support the health and wellbeing needs of veterans.
The NCVH is part of the new $341 million clinical services building being built at Concord to replace wards constructed in World War II to accommodate repatriated soldiers.
Damien Thomlinson lost parts of both his arms and legs when he was injured while serving in Afghanistan in 2009. When he returned to Australia for treatment, he was frustrated about the lack of coordinated rehabilitation services for seriously injured veterans.
“The left hand wasn’t talking to the right hand... having to find services..., find different things and you think the entire time ‘How easy it would be if everything was in one spot’,” Mr Thomlinson said.
He’s grateful the new NCVH will offer streamlined access to services for contemporary veterans who have served in peacekeeping and active missions including Rwanda, East Timor, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Solomon Islands.
“To find out that there’s a hospital like Concord that’s putting all those services into one spot making that system easier is so re-assuring for the future. I hope you can understand how much it means to me to have a centralised service, centralised skills in the one spot,” he said.
Professor Bob Lusby AM, a retired surgeon Australian Army Colonel and the chair of the NCVH working committee, said Concord Hospital has a strong tradition of caring for returned servicemen and women.
“The injuries that [veterans] see, and the things they have to put up with, is unbelievable and then we bring them back and we do very little for them. And, yet in mind and in body they have been affected,” Professor Lusby said.
“What we hope to do here is create a one-stop-shop to care for their physical and mental health and for their families,” he said.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard has revealed he has a personal connection to the project as his father spent time rehabilitating in Concord Hospital following service in the Royal Australian Navy.
Mr Hazzard toured the construction site with Member for Drummoyne John Sidoti, Professor Lusby, Sydney Local Health District Chief Executive Dr Teresa Anderson AM and Health Infrastructure Project Director Hayley Bell.
“I just think this is amazing to be able to do as a government... to actually do something for our veterans, it’s just a magic feeling and I’m delighted that the work is underway.”
The new clinical services building will be linked to the current hospital and will also include new inpatient units for aged care and rehabilitation and a comprehensive cancer centre, increasing the hospital’s capacity.
Demolition works at Concord Hospital are continuing on site and main works construction is due to start next year.