St John of God set the benchmark for health care services and the people of Midland would be thankful for access to them, State health minister Kim Hames told dignitaries at a foundation laying ceremony on August 8.
Dr Hames was joined by his Federal counterpart, Tanya Plibersek, Bishop Donald Sproxton and senior SJOG staff for speeches and a fly-over video of the SJOG-run public and private hospitals which will be built on the site.
After a smoking ceremony and an Indigenous “Welcome to Country”, Bishop Sproxton prayed that God would bless the project, reading the parable of the Good Samaritan from the Gospel of Luke.
Dr Hames said the concerns of a small group of protesters, who were objecting to the private provision of public health services, were more than adequately answered by the quality of care offered at SJOG’s Murdoch and Subiaco hospitals.
“Would anybody in this region love to go to one of those hospitals for their care? Of course they would. They are fantastic hospitals and provide an excellent level of service and they are in fact the benchmark of the standard of service in this State,” he said.
The Federal Government is contributing half of the public hospital’s $360m construction cost (the total cost of building both hospital’s is $430m).
Ms Plibersek said that for the first time, people in the Midland area would have local access to free chemotherapy, high-dependency care, coronary care and a dedicated children’s ward.
The Midland public hospital will also have 50 per cent more beds than the Swan District hospital it is replacing, she said.
After thanking Bishop Sproxton for sharing the story of the Good Samaritan, Ms Plibersek proffered a theological musing of her own:
“[The parable of the Good Samaritan] is a particular favourite of mine but I also think of what [St Vincent de Paul founder, Blessed] Frederic Ozanam said in response … that pouring oil on the wounds of the traveller is charity but preventing the attack in the first place is social justice”, she said.
SJOG’s chair of trustees, Clive Macknay, told the August 8 gathering the group had a strong community focus and looked forward to pastoral work with infants, young families and troubled youths in the Midland community.
Both Bishop Sproxton and Ms Plibersek welcomed members of the Sisters of St John of God at the gathering, noting the Order’s 117-year history of providing healthcare in Western Australia.
The ceremony followed the State Government’s confirmation on June 14 that St John of God was their preferred contractor for the construction and operation of the new Midland public hospital, signing a 23-year Public Private Partnership with the healthcare group.