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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Braeside Hospital celebrating 25 years of exceptional care in Sydney’s south west

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Braeside Hospital in Sydney’s south west has been celebrated in a special ceremony, to honour a quarter of a century of providing quality palliative care, rehabilitation and older persons’ mental health to its rich and diverse local communities.

The hospital, operated by HammondCare at Prairiewood, has cared for more than 27,000 patients in the Liverpool and Fairfield areas since taking its first admission in November 1996 after an opening by then premier, Bob Carr.

HammondCare chief executive Mike Baird marked the anniversary on November 24 at a ceremony where he expressed optimism about the hospital’s future.

A master plan is in consultation with the South Western Sydney Local Health District  – expected to be unveiled next year – will drive a refurbishment program of the existing buildings and examine more services.

A $250,000 grant from the NSW Government will fund a new family lounge where relatives of palliative care patients can feel at home with work to begin in the New Year.

“At 25 years we have just got started,” Baird said.

“While we celebrate this incredible legacy, I am excited about what the next 25 years holds.”

Baird said the hospital’s biggest strength is its connection to its local community, including its active Friends of Braeside group, which he said was a great example of what’s possible for other HammondCare services.

“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,” he said.

HammondCare’s general manager of health and palliative care, Dr Andrew Montague, joined Baird and representatives of South Western Sydney Local Health District to acknowledge the 25 year milestone, held with a reward ceremony for staff.

A big 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 required the postponement.

Montague related a number of stories about the hospital’s early days, including observing that the official opening of the hospital by 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,” Montigue said.

“It was a ghost hospital.”

The 72-bed hospital with its swooping architecture was a showpiece for wheelchair accessibility without a single step.

However, this 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,” he said, smiling.

Braeside was built at its present Prairiewood site next to Fairfield Hospital – after 90 years at Petersham – following a NSW Government invitation to then operator Hope Healthcare to bring more health services to Sydney’s south west.

Tickets to The Rose Ball dinner, dance and show planned for October 2022 can be purchased by email at braesidefriends@gmail.com or by calling 0414 507912.

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