A community campaign to upgrade Daylesford's ageing hospital is gathering pace with more than $80,000 contributed in just four weeks to a fund to create a masterplan for the hospital's future.
When the fund was launched the goal was to raise $100,000 by Christmas but the importance of the hospital to the town saw the bulk of the funds pledged within weeks.
Daylesford Hospital Upgrade Community Campaign Committee chair and Hepburn mayor Lesley Hewitt said support had come from right across the community - individuals, businesses and community groups with Rotary Club of Daylesford pitching in $5000 and Bendigo Bank agreeing to match $1 for every $3 raised.
Ms Hewitt said the hospital was in desperate need of upgrades to ensure it could care for the growing and ageing community of Daylesford and surrounds in to the future.
"There's been various reviews done which suggest the hospital is in need of a physical upgrade in order to meet the standards of what's required for a hospital in the 21st century," she said. "It was built in 1861 and it has had several upgrades but nothing for the last 20 years.
"Things like the operating theatre and sterilising facilities are ok at the moment but will not be ok when new standards come in. We need space for dialysis, some of the wards are not big enough and there's a whole lot of things that need to be done to make sure that we continue to be able to operate as a hospital."
Daylesford Hospital, part of Central Highlands Rural Health which was formed through the amalgamation of Hepburn Health and Kyneton District Health in November 2019, currently offers urgent care, acute care, surgery, diagnostics, dialysis, palliative care and residential aged care.
"It's not for the level of care of a Ballarat or Bendigo where people go to a tertiary hospital, but often people need hospital and nursing care not at that tertiary level," Ms Hewitt said.
"Numerous people contacted us about the importance of the hospital to their health and the community's health. We've got an ageing population who require more hospital care, a growing population, children who require care, the population increase that occurs over weekends, sporting injuries and those kind of things.
"People's health and their rehabilitation is improved by being able to be in their own local area where friends and family can visit them."
When the $100,000 fundraising target is met the committee will fast-track creation of a masterplan for the hospital's future before approaching the state government for funds to complete the proposed works.
The masterplan will set the priorities for the hospital upgrade, including new sterilization facilities, an operating theatre rebuild, increased space for dialysis, shared rooms replaced with single rooms and improved disability access.
"Once a masterplan has been finalised, the campaign committee will seek commitments from the current state government and opposition as we lead into an election year in 2022," Ms Hewitt said.
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"The hospital site is fairly large so there's room for an upgrade to occur. It's a really important part of Daylesford and we've all been around long enough to know that once services go, you don't get them back again.
"We are thrilled with the community spirit that is driving the campaign to fund the hospital upgrade masterplan."
Donations can be made at Daylesford Community Bank - Daylesford Hospital Upgrade account or online here.
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