Construction has begun on a new mental healthcare hospital for veterans and first responders, at St John of God Richmond Hospital.
The first sod was turned on the St John of God redevelopment during a ceremony at the North Richmond grounds, on Thursday, August 4.
The ceremony was attended by campaign patron, General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, and James McMahon, former WA Commissioner for Corrective Services and SAS commander and current St John of God Health Care board member, ahead of the facility's Veterans' Day commemoration.
The $65 million redevelopment will include 112 private rooms - up from 88 - a wellness centre with gym and indoor pool, and the historic 130-year-old Belmont House will reportedly remain a prominent and treasured feature of the new design.
St John of God Richmond Hospital Chief Executive Officer, Colman O'Driscoll, said the redevelopment demonstrates the organisation's commitment to the Hawkesbury region.
"It cements our position and the Hawkesbury's position as a specialist expert provider of mental healthcare, particularly for trauma and psychological injury in veteran and first responder communities," Mr O'Driscoll said.
He said the facility was perfectly-placed in the Hawkesbury, given how important the RAAF Base and Defence community is to our region, and that the services provided at the facility were "leading the nation".
"This is not your average kind of hospital service, this is a very specialist part of the overall mental health system that provides care, treatment and support for veteran and first responders who suffer from significant psychological injury, and PTSD related to their service," he said.
Ms O'Driscoll said it was appropriate the sod turning coincided with the facility's Veterans' Day occasion.
"On admission, 70 per cent of military veterans and 85 per cent of first responders are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)," he said.
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"This redevelopment is the first step in our vision to build a mental health system, translational research and satellite sites across the country, orientated around the needs of those who need our care."
The expanded hospital campus will integrate a National Centre for Psychological Trauma and Translational Research.
Satellite centres will be set-up around the country with trauma recovery programs, telehealth facilities, accommodation and gymnasiums that will support first responders and veterans.
St John of God Health Care Chair of Trauma and Mental Health, Professor Zachary Steel, said: "In addition to St John of God Health Care's contribution, we will be seeking government and philanthropic support towards this project."
Works are expected to be completed in 2023 and care and treatment will continue at the facility during construction.
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