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History of St John of God Ballarat - 1980s - The new hospital

The redevelopment of the hospital not only provided some great new areas but also allowed for new services to become available.

New Hospital

Areas completed in the rebuild

During the 1980s St John of God Ballarat Hospital underwent a great physical metamorphosis:  

  • the original solariums which had been converted to wards were restored as bright sunrooms for patients in the 1986 rebuilding
  • a new car park off Drummond Street to the north of the hospital was built
  • the new hospital chapel, the Chapel of the Visitation, had five stained glass windows made for it by Rosemary Spencer
  • an aplekage (fabric art form) panel by Stewart Merrett was installed behind the altar, and a carved crucifix came from the convent
  • five large appliqué panels, also made by Stewart Merrett, were mounted in the hospital foyer, and depicted the life cycle of a pomegranate against the background of a Celtic cross
  • all wards had carpet, all rooms had air conditioning and ensuites, and the beds were fully adjustable.

Ballarat’s growing population which was up to 63,000 by 1986 would be well served.

Rebuilding plans, and the new hospital facilities when they were opened on 7 October 1986, inspired a concentrated period of renewal and expansion of services during the 1980s.

Expansion of pastoral and social welfare services

Pastoral care was an integral feature of the hospital since its establishment.

A separate and formal Pastoral Care Department was established by Sister Eugenia Brennan in 1979 who had qualifications as hospital chaplain was studying for a Bachelor of Theology.

As coordinator of the department, Sister Eugenia worked with the local bishop, clergy from all the local churches, doctors, patients, and caregivers about the concepts and contemporary requirements of Pastoral Care in a hospital setting.

The department was expanded in 1985 to become a Pastoral and Social Services Department after experience during recent years demonstrated the need for a more coordinated provision of social and welfare services within the hospital.

The expansion was achieved in collaboration with the Ballarat Diocesan Family Service.

New medical and paramedical services

Several new medical and paramedical services were introduced:

  • the Department of Ophthalmology was established under the direction of ophthalmologist Dr Geoff Hunter in 1983 when an examination room was funded by the Ladies’ Auxiliary
  • a number of beds were set aside for ophthalmic use, and new surgical equipment purchased in 1985 for certain eye surgical procedures that were previously unavailable at the hospital
  • a group of doctors reviewed the integration and expansion of endoscopy services at the hospital in 1985
  • a medical library commenced in October 1986
  • a physical therapy centre was created in 1986, with a pool, gym and physiotherapy areas
  • in 1987 the pharmacy relocated to the former administration wing and a computer system was installed for dispensing and stock control
  • in January 1989 an Accident and Emergency service started on weekends and public holidays
  • a family birthing centre opened in 1989 which was the first of its kind in Ballarat.

What’s next?

St John of God Ballarat Hospital becomes a leader in hospital technology in Victoria.