New Barossa Hospital may be just 3 years away

Mrs Jodie Schuster and Mr Jerry Rogers (guest speakers) with Mrs Judith Rogers and Ms Rebecca Graham, Chief Executive Officer, BHFLHN.

A new Barossa Hospital may be as little as three to five years away once a full business case has been done and has been approved by State Cabinet, reported Ms Rebecca Graham, Chief Executive, Barossa, Hills, Fleurieu Local Health Network in her address at the Network’s Annual Public Meeting held at Weintal Barossa last Thursday.

Continuing her address, Ms Graham said the State Government has committed $6 million to a business study and the funding will also include acquisition of a potential site.

She added, “We are now looking for a greenfield site which will possibly be in Nuriootpa and close to the Sturt Highway.

“The business case will deliver an architectural design and cost estimate. Members of Barossa Hills Fleurieu Health Network will be meeting with representatives of The Barossa Council to look at a number of potential sites to put forward.

“The site will be in or around Nuriootpa because it needs to be close to the Sturt Highway. 

“We will be looking for a property of around five hectares.”

She is hopeful of a land acquisition within the next 12 months.

Ms Graham said it was important that the new facility would also have a training ground including doctors, nurses and all health professionals.

COVID-19 planning for the Barossa region is currently taking place as Ms Graham said, “We have our COVID ready plan for the scheduled November 23 border opening.”

She also suggested South Australia is in a very good position because we will be 80% vaccinated.

Health experts think 85% of cases will be able to be managed locally and planning is taking place on how they will manage cases and how they will protect their staff.

“The reality is that we just introduced mandatory vaccination of our workforce. We play a very strong role in dealing with COVID. The Barossa hospitals will be a decanting centre if there are too many cases in the metropolitan area,” she added.

During question time Ms Graham revealed that 94% of nurses are now vaccination compliant in the Barossa Hills Fleurieu Local Health Network and the vaccination rate is rapidly growing by the day.

Mrs Jodie Schuster, Freeling and Mr Jerry Rogers, Nuriootpa, both spoke of their gratitude for the health service from a consumers’ experience.

Jodie has three young children and each has their own health issues. Initially it was her son, Lachlan who had severe ill health but then she discovered her twins, Mardi and Chelsea to also have health

Their illness ranged from mild cerebral palsy to a rare lung disease and rare immunity disorder.

Jodie explained how she had received therapy support through Barossa Hills Fleurieu Local Health Network and her advice to other families is to always ask for help.

“Initially when I only had one child I managed but when I had twins I sought help from NDIS,” she explained.

From there the therapists discovered the child’s strengths and weaknesses.

“I would encourage home aids. It’s not just the child who learns but the parents as well. I would also suggest small group sessions with other children too,” said Jodie.

Initially Jodie found the whole experience to be a lonely journey. Now she has the confidence to give her children the best chance and seeing how far her children have come now gives her great confidence.

“I can’t speak highly enough of my therapy team,” Jodie remarked.

Mr Jerry Rogers, a client of rehabilitation, accompanied by his wife, Judith, gave an emotional address, saying he started going to the gym in the Barossa because he has cancer and had part of his lung removed.

Jerry said, “I think if you have cancer you have to own it.

“I have a fantastic wife who has stood by me,” he added.

Jerry explained that he brought himself up from a young child. As he matured he commenced working in the mines and then joined the Army.

It was while serving in the Army that he got the name “Jerry” after Jerry Lewis at the time and the name has stood by him for 60 years.

Later he became a truck driver in Europe.

Cancer for Jerry is, as he says, just something that came along. He now has artificial shoulders and a plate in his neck. 

He also has problems swallowing. A specialist found he had a spot on his lung and then he discovered he had another patch behind the first spot.

“The treatment I got in the Royal Adelaide Hospital was good but what was not good is the food. They put everything through the blender for me,” he said.

Jerry goes to The Rex and with his wife, Judith and the two took part in a seven kilometre cancer fundraising walk.

Jerry explained that in five year’s time his plan, if his specialist gives him the all clear, will be to take his flugal horn and play in a sheep paddock, “One Moment in Time” by Mariah Carey.

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