PHOTOS

25 not out: Braeside Hospital marks milestone

After celebrating their 25th anniversary, Braeside Hospital is already looking towards the future.

The hospital, which is operated by HammondCare, has cared for more than 27,000 patients since taking its first admission in November 1996. They provide palliative care, rehabilitation and older persons' mental health to the diverse communities of south-west Sydney.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the hospital's milestone last month, HammondCare chief executive Mike Baird said the hospital's biggest strength was its connection to its local community, including its active Friends of Braeside group.

Locals rallied to meet a fundraising target of more than $1 million to help the new hospital open with the best facilities at its present Prairiewood site next to Fairfield Hospital - after 90 years at Petersham. There were walkathons, golf days and even a spaghetti eating competition held at Club Marconi. One Smithfield RSL fundraiser raised $40,000.

"I think Braeside shows the power that comes as we connect to the local community and get better outcomes - not just with fundraising but as a broad network of people connected to others at their time of need," Mr Baird said.

"At 25 years we have just got started. While we celebrate this incredible legacy, I am excited about what the next 25 years holds."

Mr Baird said a master plan in consultation with the South Western Sydney Local Health District is expected to be unveiled next year and will drive a refurbishment program of the existing buildings and examine more services. A $250,000 grant from the state government will fund a new family lounge with work to begin in the New Year.

HammondCare's general manager of health and palliative care Dr Andrew Montague recalled a number of stories about the hospital's early days at the 25th anniversary event which included a reward ceremony for staff including original staff members, HammondCare's director of medical services Professort Friedbert Kohler, Bronwen Ellis and Meriam Pascua.

He said the official opening of the hospital by then Premier Bob Carr on October 14, 1996 was more than a month before the first patients arrived.

"It was much like an episode of Yes Minister where the the best hospital is one without patients," Mr Montigue said. "It was a ghost hospital."

He also revealed while the hospital's swooping architecture was a showpiece for wheelchair accessibility without a single step, it caused challenges for rehabilitation staff who needed steps to build leg strength for patients who lived in walk-up units.

"They ended up building a set of steps in the car park - that's how desperately they needed the steps," he said.

  • A gala fundraiser, The Rose Ball, will be hosted on October 14 next year by the Friends of Braeside at the Grand Paradiso. It had been scheduled for this month but COVID-19 restrictions forced the postponement. Tickets to The Rose Ball dinner and show planned for October 2022 can be purchased by email at braesidefriends@gmail.com or by calling 0414 507912.