Wahroonga, New South Wales
Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton and NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner officially opened the Sydney Adventist Hospital (San) redevelopment on Friday, October 17.
This hospital is about providing the love of Christ in a practical way to people who need help . . . I salute your work, and I know you will do it even better in the months and years ahead as a result of these new facilities we open today.
Speaking to a gathering of more than 500 guests, the prime minister said it was a “deep honour” and a “privilege” to take part in the opening ceremony.
“This is a happy day for the people of northern Sydney and a proud day for everyone associated with the San,” said Mr Abbott. “I’m just so delighted to be here to bask in the glory of the doctors and nurses and all the other professional and other staff who make this hospital such a splendid success and make it such an important institution in the healthcare system of NSW and of Australia.”
Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, and Adventist HealthCare CEO, Dr Leon Clark, unveil a plaque to commemorate the official opening of the San redevelopment. [Photo courtesy: Linden Chuang]
The importance of the San to the community was echoed by Mrs Skinner, who credited the hospital for providing “outstanding care to people across Sydney’s north shore, north west, Northern Beaches and Central Coast” for the past 111 years.
“Today it is the largest private, not-for-profit hospital in NSW,” added Mrs Skinner, “working closely with public hospitals including Hornsby, Westmead, Gosford and Royal North Shore.”
Dr Barry Oliver, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific, speaks during the official opening of the San redevelopment on Friday, October 17. Dr Oliver also offered the dedicatory prayer. [Photo courtesy: SAH]
As part of the opening ceremony, the prime minister and other dignitaries were given a tour of the recently opened LW Clark Tower, named after Adventist HealthCare CEO Dr Leon Clark.
The 12-storey building, which serves as the centrepiece of the San redevelopment project, brings the hospital’s total bed-capacity up to 550. The new facility also features NSW’s most modern maternity unit, state-of-the-art birthing suites, and space for up to 24 operating theatres.
The tour concluded with a walk through the San’s new purpose-built healing garden. The outdoor courtyard area is designed to help patients of the hospital’s Integrated Cancer Centre, which is awaiting completion subject to further public donations.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott meets a new mother in maternity ward of the LW Clark Tower. [Photo courtesy: Linden Chuang]
The $A200 million San redevelopment has been built to cater to the estimated 50 per cent increase in demand for its healthcare services. By 2024, the hospital is expected to cater for over 300,000 patients a year.
“This hospital is about providing the love of Christ in a practical way to people who need help,” said Mr Abbott. “I salute your work, and I know you will do it even better in the months and years ahead as a result of these new facilities we open today.”
Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, and NSW Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, share a laugh with the Sydney Adventist Hospital surgical team. [Photo courtesy: Linden Chuang]
See below for the full transcript of Mr Abbott’s speech.
“Thanks very much for making me and my parliamentary colleagues so welcome—Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton, Jillian Skinner the State Health Minister, Paul Fletcher the local Federal Member, and Barry O’Farrell the former Premier and our local State member.
This is a happy day for the people of northern Sydney and a proud day for everyone associated with the San or the Sydney Adventist Hospital as we are now asked to call it.
You know, everyone loves to see a doctor or a nurse when they’re sick because doctors and nurses solve your problems.
People are not normally as happy to see politicians because politicians are thought to cause your problems.
I’m just so delighted to be here today to bask in the glory, to bask in the glory of the doctors and nurses and all the other professionals and other staff who make this hospital such a splendid success and make it such an important institution in the healthcare system of NSW and of Australia.
Some of you might remember that for four years towards the end of the life of the Howard Government, I was the Health Minister myself and they were great years to savour.
The great thing about working with people in our health system, the treating staff, the researchers, everyone involved in our health system—is there for the right reason.
No one is in the health system to become a millionaire. No one is in the health system for the applause, they’re there because they want to do the right thing by their fellow human beings when times are tough—and that’s when you go to Hospital when times are at their toughest.
So I found it extraordinarily exhilarating and uplifting to be the Health Minister for four years: it was a time which helped reacquaint me with Australians at their best and to be here today amongst the very best of us to celebrate the great work that you do is a deep, deep, honour and I thank you so much for the privilege.
I should also salute the private part of our health system because the private health system helps to make everything work. If we didn’t have a private health system that was strong and effective we wouldn’t have the strong and effective public health system that we do.
Our private hospitals such as this help to make our public hospitals better.
There’s the cross polination that comes from many of the senior staff working in both systems, there’s the fact that if the public system is under pressure, the private system can take some of that pressure off. So I see the private system such as this not antagonistic to the public system that we know and love but as complementing and supporting the public system, the public hospitals, that we all so rely on.
Something like two thirds of all elective procedures are done in the private system—if we didn’t have the private system just think how much more difficult it would be, to get your procedures done in our public hospitals.
Finally, I want to say thank you to the Adventist Church and to all the other great charities upon which our private system depend.
As you said Leon in your lovely presentation on screen, this hospital (Sydney Adventist Hospital) is about providing the love of Christ in a practical way to people who need help.
That is the spirit which motivates so much of our private health system—doing the right thing for others. Not because of reward, not because of recognition, but because it is the right thing to do.
And you will be so much better able after today thanks to this fine new facility to spread that love and provide those services.
This is already, as you say, the largest private hospital, the largest charitable hospital in this great state.
More than 2500 staff, you treat almost a quarter of a million patients every year, you’ve got about 800 doctors—it is an extraordinary institution and to think that it has been so marvellously enhanced by the Leon Clark Tower and the other facilities that we officially opened today, you must feel very proud Leon of the work that you’ve done over the last couple of decades at this hospital.
And can I say as I was looking at the briefing notes for today’s event, looking at al the things you were able to achieve, 12 new operating theatres, 200 new beds, additional car parking for something like 1200 cars, all for $200 million? Extraordinary, extraordinary . . . $200 million of outstanding value. I hope our public health planners are taking note because we need to get the best possible value from our health dollar and that is certainly what you do here.
So thank you to you, Leon, thank you everyone associated with this great hospital.
I salute your work, and I know you will do it even better in the months and years ahead as a result of these new facilities we open today.”—The Hon Tony Abbott, prime minister of Australia