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Hospital History

South West Healthcare was formed in 1999 as the result of an amalgamation between Corangamite Regional Hospital Service and Warrnambool & District Base Hospital.

1847 Warrnambool Founded
1848 A Warrnambool correspondent boasted that the “new township was so healthy a medical man could not make a living there.”
1849 Dr Isaac Corney & Dr Berkeley Hutchinson set up medical practices in Warrnambool.
1850 Benevolent Committee formed to “give aid to sick/poor individuals.”
First President: Rev Dalrymple, Presbyterian Minister
1851 Warrnambool Benevolent Society established
1854 Warrnambool Hospital & Benevolent Asylum established
Premises owned by Dr Hutchinson on the corner of Henna and Koroit Streets rented at a cost of £110 per annum.
Mr and Mrs Croll : First Matron and Master
Dr John Clarke: First Medical Officer
Mr. J Pilkington: First Honorary Secretary
1855 Name changed to Villiers & Heytesbury Hospital & Benevolent Asylum.
1860 Andrew Kerr, Municipal Surveyor designed first hospital building.
1861 First building erected: A 2-storied stone structure.
Official Opening May 1861 Total Cost £1,084 Main sources of revenue were membership fees of the Benevolent society, donations and police court fines.
1869 Extensions to the hospital included fever, female, and two male wards, operating room, board room, dining room, now on five acres of land under cultivation. Accommodation available for 27 males and 9 females.
1872 Warrnambool Hospital & Benevolent Asylum incorporated 18th October.
1878 Infectious Diseases Ward opened.
1886 Benevolent character of hospital altered with the addition with the addition of two bedrooms and a sitting room for paying patients.
1911 Dispensary and Children’s Ward added.
1925 Nurse’s home facing Ryot Street completed.
Last of the benevolent patients. Hospital services became purely medical and surgical.
Red Cross Auxiliary commenced.
192[5] Name changed to Warrnambool and District Base Hospital
1927 Nurses’ Registration Board approved hospital as a three year training school for nurses.
1929 George Rolfe Operating Theatre and Administration Block opened.
1932 Hospital was registered as midwifery training school.
1938 Marcus Saltau House opened.
1944 New Children’s Ward.
1946 Tuberculosis Chalet erected.
1953 Nurses Home (Heytesbury House) opened.
1955 Corio Hospital was merged with Warrnambool & District Base Hospital.
1963 November 17 – official opening of the central multi-storey block.
1965 Tuberculosis Chalet building removed.
1967 Large Casualty department used for first time. Cost of $90,000 of which $55,000 was a legacy from Susan Stella Kirkman, in memory of her brother (a dentist in Warrnambool).
1980 New Special Care Ward (20 beds) above kitchen and extension to Intensive Care Unit completed early 1980 (cost of $687,942 met from hospital funds without Government assistance).
1986 Sexual Assault Unit opened.
WRAD opened (Warrnambool Regional Association for Alcohol and Drug Dependence).
May – Endoscopy Unit opened.
August – CAT scanning unit in Radiology commenced operation.
October – Palliative Care Unit opened.
1988 Graduation of final group of hospital trained nurses.
1989 Commencement of training for 4th year medical students.
1992 The Base Hospital and Glenelg Psychiatric Services officially integrated from 1 April.
1995 In January the Corangamite Regional Hospital Services formed as an amalgamation between Camperdown District Hospital, Lismore and District Hospital and the Lismore and Derrinallum Nursing Home Society.
Merindah Lodge Nursing Home was extended to 28 beds.
1996 Redevelopment of Warrnambool Emergency Department opened.
1997 The Camperdown Community Psychiatric Centre in Scott Street, Camperdown was also opened at this time.
The Lismore Hostel transferred to the Camperdown Campus, forming the 36 bed Merindah Lodge/Tooliorook Aged Care Facility.
1998 The Moran Health Care Group assumed control of the Corio House facility on 1 June. A new 45 bed nursing home was built in East Warrnambool. Hider Street was divided by construction of undercover walkway between Community Health and Mental Health Inpatient Unit.
1999 South West Healthcare created with the amalgamation of the Warrnambool & District Base Hospital and Corangamite Regional Hospital Services on the 1st July 1999.
South West Alliance of Rural Hospitals (SWARH) established to rationalise and improve information technology services for 13 hospitals and healthcare organisations in the south west.
2000 Macarthur & District Community Outreach Service amalgamated with South West Healthcare 1 July 2000. It is to be known as Macarthur Community Health.
Psychiatric Services residential care unit situated in Hider Street, officially opened on 14 April 2000.
2002 Demolition of Heytesbury House, the former student nurse accommodation block constructed in 1953.
2004 South West Healthcare celebrated 150 years with a sell-out 150th Ball and an historical exhibition, Wellbeing in Warrnambool.
2005 Prime Ministerial announcement of a new medical school at Deakin University. South West Healthcare Warrnambool campus earmarked as the central hub of the Greater Green Triangle cluster. New education facilities, tutorial rooms and change rooms to be included in the new capital redevelopment.
2009 The Camperdown Hospital campus turned 100 on 16 March; one century to the day it admitted its very first patients.
Marcus Saltau House demolished to make way for new developmen
2010 First group of 3rd year Deakin University Medical students arrive at South West Healthcare. The new $3.5M Deakin Clinical School will be included as part of the Hospital redevelopment.
2011 Stage 1, the $115 million redevelopment of Warrnambool Base Hospital officially opened.
2012 Completion of $26 million Warrnambool Community Health primary care centre.
2015 Construction of $30 million South West Regional Cancer Centre (SWRCC) completed. SWRCC was developed as a partnership between Epworth Healthcare, Peter’s Project and South West Healthcare. Significant community fundraising made this centre possible.
2017 Construction of $4.8 million Prevention and Recovery Centre (PARC) located next to Brierly Reserve on Moore Street, Warrnambool completed.
2020 $1.94 million purpose built Portland Community Mental Health Centre opened.

Page last updated: 20 September 2023

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