Canberra's ageing cancer wards are getting a $17 million revamp
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Canberra's ageing cancer wards are getting a $17 million revamp

Work has begun on a $17 million revamp of Canberra Hospital's ageing and dreary cancer wards in a bid to improve patient safety and create a more positive environment.

The inpatient cancer wards are part of the original Canberra Hospital building which was built more than 40 years ago.

The refurbished rooms will give patients better privacy and greater protection from infections for vulnerable patients.

An artist's impression of a room in the 14A oncology ward at Canberra Hospital.

An artist's impression of a room in the 14A oncology ward at Canberra Hospital.

Most of the oncology inpatient rooms are currently shared between two and four patients but the revamp will see 30 of the 41 rooms single rooms.

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The outdated Wards 14A and 14B were part of the original buildings at Canberra Hospital.

The refurbishment of Ward 14A is due to be completed in the second half of the year, while Ward 14B should be finished by March next year.

Canberra Health Services executive director infrastructure management and maintenance Colm Mooney said the redevelopment would include the roll-out of new medical equipment and furnishings.

“There will be more single bedrooms to support patient privacy, infection control and recovery, and daybeds in patient rooms to enable family members to be more involved,” Mr Mooney said.

“The redevelopment will also feature positive pressure environments to reduce the risk of infection to immune-suppressed patients. These rooms are designed so that air flows out rather than in, keeping airborne bacteria away.”

Colm Mooney, executive director infrastructure, and Cathie O'Neill, executive director of cancer, ambulatory and community health support.

Colm Mooney, executive director infrastructure, and Cathie O'Neill, executive director of cancer, ambulatory and community health support. Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

The wards have previously come under scrutiny for the potential for bacteria to spread in immune suppressed patients. 

Upgrades to the clinical trials service area will allow it to add the testing of new drugs to its existing program of intervention testing.

Executive Director cancer, ambulatory and community health support Cathie O’Neill said the redevelopment would benefit those attending the Medical Oncology and Radiation Oncology Inpatient Unit and Haematology Inpatient Unit.

“These changes will allow us to build on the exceptional care our staff provide to inpatients of the two units by providing a more comfortable environment for them and for those who support them,” Ms O’Neill said.

“We are looking forward to working in the new environment. During the construction phase we aim to minimise disruption and discomfort for patients as well as their friends and families.”

Preliminary sketch plans were finalised in August 2018 and demolition of Ward 14A was completed in October 2018. Construction of the new-look ward 14A will begin shortly. Ward 14B will be decommissioned once 14A is re-opened to patients, with the second phase of construction due to get underway in October 2019.

The redevelopment will be connected to the neighbouring Canberra Region Cancer Centre by a new walkway extending the central corridor. Design features within the ward refurbishment will be consistent with the appearance of the centre which opened in 2014. A new plantroom will supply essential building services.

A tender process was held in late 2018 for completion of the design and to undertake the rebuild. The tender was awarded to national fitout and refurbishment contractor Shape Australia, which is in the process of establishing a site office and will shortly begin engaging user groups on the finer points of the project, from design to furnishings.

Daniella White is a reporter for The Canberra Times with a special focus on health issues

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