Personal care at Bethesda

NOT many hospitals can boast million-dollar views of the Swan River, but non-profit Bethesda Hospital can, following a $20 million dollar redevelopment program that has transformed the ageing Claremont riverside site into a three-level, 103-bed hospital with panoramic views over Freshwater Bay. Three years of construction work by builder Doric has resulted in an increased theatre capacity, a new medical ward and a day procedure unit, which will cater to the future health needs of Perth’s ageing population. Bethesda Hospital chief executive Brian Thomson said the private facility was established as a non-profit organisation in 1964 by a Christian nurse, who realised her vision for a community hospital upon returning to WA after working in India. “We have no shareholders and all surpluses are put back into the operation and applied to benevolent groups and community programs,” he said. The hospital is officially associated with Churches of Christ, and Bethesda staff members are planning to do some more work in the Pilbara with Indigenous communities as well as undertaking future missions to Africa. Mr Thomson said the redevelop-ment was a courageous decision for the Bethesda board, which initially had to consider whether to remain in health care as a non-profit organisation with little capital. Mr Thomson said the significant transformations in medicine and acute care had dictated the need for a major redevelopment at Bethesda. The hospital was previously extended in 1992. “The size of the hospital now creates a great opportunity to provide personal care in a very supportive environment for the individual. Our society is looking for greater volume and quality of care and that is the challenge for the hospital sector,” he said. In the 1980s, health funds provided gap free cover for shared accommodation, which resulted in Bethesda having a high level of that type of accommodation up until now. But with the increasing requirement for privacy and a wider range of facilities in hospital care, Bethesda has had more demand for single and private rooms, providing an even greater reason for the hospital to redevelop. Mr Thomson said the mix of patients at the hospital had changed to 20 per cent medical, with patients staying nine days on average, with the other 80 per cent being surgical patients, staying as little as a day. “With the massive changes in patients’ length of stay, and particularly same day processes, we didn’t have an appropriate surgical unit and so this was also identified as a definite need,” he said. The hospital now has a capacity for 103 beds, up from 77, as well as six operating theatres and one procedure room. “We feel we have received very good value for money now the place is running at near capacity and we are certainly very happy with the result,” Mr Thomson said. Services available include orthopaedic, plastic, reconstructive, cosmetic and general surgery with specialists practicing in gynaecology, ophthalmology, dental, urology, ear, nose and throat, and pain management. The new facilities have also prompted Bethesda Hospital to form a partnership with Avisis Health to promote access to the hospital and its medical practitioners for the international community. Avisis Health will coordinate all travel arrangements and provide on the ground 24-hour concierge services for international patients.

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