Ballarat’s public health services experienced a year of rapid development and growth, with the completion of several major capital works projects and a record number of babies being born.
The Ballarat Health Services (BHS) annual report was tabled in state parliament last week ahead of its public release next month.
A record 1349 babies arrived at the Base Hospital, eclipsing the previous record of 1289 in 2010-2011.
Meanwhile, there were 44,860 attendances at outpatient clinics — a new record — and five per cent growth in hospital bed days to 83,560.
BHS chief executive officer Andrew Rowe said the opening of a new special care nursery, maternity outpatients unit and state-of-the-art cardiovascular suite were among the highlights of the year. BHS also recorded an operating surplus and progress was made on the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre (BRICC).
“There was clearly a need within our community for a high-tech cardiovascular suite,” Mr Rowe said.
“Since it opened in November 2011 more than 850 patients have undergone a range of procedures, including the insertion of potentially life-saving stents.”
Mr Rowe said despite all the activity and growth, BHS worked within its budget and had recorded a surplus of $214,000.
He said the service was once again able to present strong cases to the government for funding to embark on critical new work.
“This will result in ongoing redevelopment of BHS and next year we will see construction start on a helipad and a multi-deck car park,” Mr Rowe said.
For the first time in several years the numbers attending the Base Hospital’s emergency department stabilised.
Mr Rowe said in 2011-2012, 52,522 patients were treated, compared to 52,601 the previous year.
“And while the number of surgeries we performed, 8574, was fewer than past years we are seeing the continuation of a trend towards more complex theatre cases,” he said.
“We’re also working with other regional hospitals to ensure that patients, who might have less complex surgery needs, can be operated on in a hospital closer to home.”
He said the partnership between BHS and the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative had brought about better care for the Indigenous community.
“We now have increased attendance at antenatal classes as a result of our Aboriginal Midwife Program and also increased attendance at outpatient and dental appointments,” Mr Rowe said.
Pressure ulcers were reduced to an all-time low at BHS this year as a result of the innovative Wound Care Project.
“The pressure wound rate dropped from 11 per cent in early 2010 to just three per cent at the Base Hospital by June this year. This is a world class result,” Mr Rowe said.