PLANNING UNDER WAY: Richard Buss, Peter Cleary, Jeff Arthur, Bernadette Loughnane and Stuart Clark inside the shell of the Byron Hospital.
PLANNING UNDER WAY: Richard Buss, Peter Cleary, Jeff Arthur, Bernadette Loughnane and Stuart Clark inside the shell of the Byron Hospital. Nolan Verheij-Full

Byron Central Hospital works in good health

CONSTRUCTION and planning for the Byron Central Hospital is well under way and the local community got a first-hand feel for the new site at an open day yesterday.

The new hospital is on schedule to be treating patients within 12 months, and construction should be finalised by March, but possibly sooner, if all continues to go to plan, Brendan Sweeney, Brookfield Multiples construction manager said.

"We are on time and under budget," he said.

Progressing from a built facility to a "fully integrated health facility" will take another two or three months.

The open day was about promoting the site and the full potential of the new hospital, as well as letting people get a close look at what was going on, Chris Crawford North Coast Local Health District chief executive said.

It was also important as many people as possible knew there is going to be a new hospital, and where it is, and what the lay-out of the hospital comprises, he said.

"I am very pleased with the progress, it is at a good stage to come and have a bit of a squiz," he said.

"There is a lot to see."

The site will include about 10,000sqm of floor space and includes an emergency department, as well as mental health, community health and dental health units.

About three quarters of the buildings have roofing, and within about a month it should be weather proof, Mr Crawford said.

Apart from construction activity there is plenty of work being done to ensure the services and personne l at the new facility can work together effectively and efficiently, he said.

The health department has employed a change manager to facilitate merging staff from two smaller hospitals, Byron Bay (central) and Mullumbimby, into the bigger, centrally located facility he said.

The merger had its challenges, but was definitely "achievable", he said.

Community health services currently offered at Bangalow will also be moved to the new central Byron site.

The new, medium-sized hospital will have diagnostic equipment like CT scans and ultrasounds, allowing doctors to keep more patients in their local facility rather than sending them to bigger facilities further afield, Mr Crawford said.

Jeffrey Arthur form NSW Health Infrastructure said the hospital design delivered a 10 per cent sustainability gain over the standard enviroinmental criteria that all building have to satisfy.

The building would utilise solar-powered hot water as well as sophisticated heating and cooling systems that were constantly monitiored to ensure high efficiency.

Building the new hospital will take 300,000 people hours of work, and where possible, workers are drawn from the local area, Mr Sweeney said.

At any time up 150 workers were on-site, he said.

"Apart from a few specialist trades, we like to create local jobs and help local economies," he said.

Up to seven traineeships had gone to young local indigenous people, and the aim was to develop these positions into trade apprenticeships, Novaskill field officer Andrew Goodchild said.

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