Photos and video of Dubbo Hospital's newly completed surgical unit

“The spirit has changed” around Dubbo hospital as yet another section of the redevelopment – the new surgical unit – reached completion on Monday.

The $18 million surgical unit, which has been constructed above the maternity unit on the second floor of the clinical service (Talbragar) building, takes the hospital’s surgical capacity from 24 beds to 34, including 14 single rooms, most with carer’s zones.

Director of Medical Services Dr Geoff Hardacre said the $150 million redevelopment stages three and four would help tackle the “sea of red” of unmet medical need in western NSW.

“If you look at the latest health impact study, Dubbo and outwards is a sea of red, meaning deficiencies in health care which this place will start addressing,” Dr Hardacre said.

“It’s a modern hospital … Not only have we got more facilities and more beds and can do more, but it’s much nicer to work in. If you compare that ward upstairs with cramped old S block, you just wonder how we carried on for so long.”

Dubbo MP Troy Grant and Western NSW Local Health District chief executive Scott McLachlan joined hospital staff on a tour of the new facilities, which feature wide open corridors and plenty of natural light.

Mr McLachlan said the upgrade would be “life-changing” for the more than 6000 patients using Dubbo’s surgical services each year.

“This new development really is a shot in the arm for surgery services in Dubbo, but right across the whole of our region,” he said. “This is a fantastic opportunity for people to receive first class rural healthcare.”

Most of the single rooms feature carer’s zones – a couch with built in storage that converts into a single bed – to allow a family member or carer to support the patient during their recovery.

A smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country was delivered by Wiradjuri elder, Lewis Burns, to cleanse the newly completed facilities.

Dr Hardacre said the carer’s zones were “terrific” and would make a “huge difference” to patients’ recovery.

But the redevelopment was not just improving things for patients.

“There’s also a change in attitude when you give people better facilities,” Dr Hardacre said. “This place has just taken off and the spirit has changed. People now want to come and work here, which is a big thing.

“We don’t have fly-in, fly-out … we’ve just got three new physicians and two new surgeons. People now want to come and work in a proper regional referral hospital, so it makes a huge difference.”