WHILE the big money was pouring into the Lismore Base Hospital yesterday, a small contingent from St Vincent's Private Hospital was preparing to do some ground-breaking work with a far smaller grant.
Yesterday's announcement by Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek included a comparatively small $2.5 million investment into the private hospital - the biggest in regional NSW.
The money going to St Vincent's is intended to expand the hospital's operating theatres. However, hospital chairman Frank Hannigan said that expansion would help pave the way for the introduction of a radical new treatment system that would make surgery easier on the patients and let them leave hospital sooner.
Mr Hannigan said the money, which was being matched dollar-for-dollar by St Vincent's, would build two new operating theatres and fund the relocation of the hospital's endoscopy suite.
What is now the endoscopy suite would then be transformed into a "hybrid interventional theatre", which really is about as fancy as the name suggests.
Using a new high-tech device to be brought over from the US, doctors in the theatre would be able to perform medical scans, such as those done by an MRI, while they were carrying out procedures.
Mr Hannigan said the machine would be able to be targeted at specific parts of the body, minimising radiation exposure and combining scan and surgery in a single procedure.
The process would ultimately minimise physical trauma caused to patients undergoing surgery, at the same time slashing rates of infection while speeding recovery times and shortening hospital stays, Mr Hannigan said.