Page 507 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 23 March 2022

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MS STEPHEN-SMITH: Our healthcare workers have done an incredible job during the pandemic, and they continue to rise to the many challenges it has presented. This has been particularly evident in the intensive care unit at Canberra Hospital. In the ICU COVID and non-COVID zones were established and adjusted to meet the needs of Canberrans due to the demand for COVID and non-COVID intensive care beds. Caring for COVID patients in the ICU requires additional health workforce due to high-care needs. This increase in the workforce has involved teaching, training and bringing on board new staff, and working through the challenges of a workforce that is also, in itself, impacted by COVID. All of this has occurred while the team has continued to provide care to our community’s most unwell patients.

This pandemic has made it very clear that our ICU capacity in the region is crucial to our public healthcare system. Throughout the pandemic and during the construction phase of the ICU expansion, which was funded with $13½ million from the commonwealth—thank you very much, commonwealth government—changes were made to the scope of the project to give our ICU clinicians increased flexibility to further increase safety for patients and staff.

One of these changes was an airlock, which means a new eight-bed unit can be operated as a single negative-pressure suite or as one negative-pressure room and two isolation rooms, to contain airborne contaminants. This gives the unit the ability to adapt and flex, which is an important step in futureproofing our ICU. The expansion has also installed, within one of the isolation rooms, new disinfection technology that is able to kill harmful viruses and bacteria using specialised lighting technologies.

The ICU is truly a state-of-the-art facility that will benefit patients and staff in Canberra and the surrounding regions.

MR PETTERSSON: Minister, how does the ICU expansion link with the broader health infrastructure changes that are occurring at Canberra Hospital?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Mr Pettersson for the supplementary question. The expansion of the current ICU facilities in Canberra Hospital provides additional intensive care capacity while construction is currently underway on the new 60-bed ICU that is part of the broader Canberra Hospital expansion project due for completion in 2024.

As much of the Canberra community has seen, the Canberra Hospital campus is undergoing significant change through a number of significant projects, such as the Canberra Hospital expansion and the expansion of the Centenary Hospital for Women and Children.

In 2021, we released the Canberra Hospital master plan, which is the blueprint for how we will continue to transform the Canberra Hospital over the next 20 years to meet the community’s needs into the future. The master plan builds on the ACT government’s nearly $1.3 billion investment in healthcare infrastructure over the past decade and the Canberra Hospital construction project currently underway. It incorporates improvements we are already making, and outlines how this work will continue into the future.

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