THE first works began on the Lismore Base Hospital Stage 3a redevelopment yesterday and Lismore MP Thomas George helped mark the occasion by donning a hard hat and taking a look around the now-flattened worksite.
Now bare ground, it will soon be a new emergency and renal unit and Mr George said he was pleased to help mark the commencement of the $80.2 million build
"It is an exciting time for the North Coast community to see the works begin," he said.
The workers had been in the process of clearing away the old structures on the ground and were keen to start building back up.
This development, he reminded the public, would see a 100% increase for the emergency unit, with four times the floor space for the section of the hospital, plus a new 18-bed renal unit.
"The staff have done an amazing job with what they had but we're going to see (a huge improvement now)," he said of the old emergency unit and the problems it faced.
Completion of Stage 3a is set for the end of 2015, at the same time as a $9 million project that will include a 250-space car park at the first stage.
Northern New South Wales Local Health District chief of staff Wayne Jones said the development would see a huge change for the emergency department, as well as other sections such as the renal unit.
"The staff work tirelessly but the building was just too small," he said.
Now they'll have four times the space in the emergency unit, which Mr Jones said will allow practitioners to provide contemporary care.
To concerns there won't be enough staff to handle the increase in space, and therefore the possible increase in patients, Mr Jones said they were taking that into account.
"If we start to see more patients come through, staffing will be reviewed," he said.
He also said the comments made by the Health Services Unit this week that the jobs of more than 500 cleaners, wardsmen and security guards at six northern NSW hospitals were "unfair".