The new six-level car park at Wagga Wagga Base Hospital provides more than 350 free parking spaces for staff, patients and visitors.
The $30 million building was officially opened by Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Regional Health Dr Michael Holland, Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr, Murrumbidgee Local Health District CEO Jill Ludford and Aunty Dot Whyman on Friday (2 June).
The project was delivered in three stages and features 81 free spaces for staff in Yathong Street, 150 free spaces for staff in Docker Street and 350 additional free spaces in the car park, meaning more than 900 parking spots are available to health staff, parents and visitors in the Wagga Wagga Base Hospital precinct.
The car park also had 2000 solar panels fitted across four areas and provision for eight electric-vehicle (EV) charging stations on the ground floor. The rooftop has more than 650 solar panels, which generate more than 300 megawatts of electricity and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 250 tons.
Dr Holland said it was now easier, quicker and safer for the public and staff to find parking within a short walk of the hospital.
Dr McGirr thanked all the dignitaries and said it was a great day.
“It is important to the community to be able to access their hospital. It’s such an important part of the community’s sense of itself and people rely on it,” Dr McGirr said.
“People don’t want the stress of finding parking … when you’ve got someone sick, that’s a reality.
“The last thing anyone needs is to be unable to find a parking spot when they need to make sure their loved ones get to the hospital and it is important that staff can park securely, especially those on shift work.”
Dr McGirr shared a personal anecdote about the car park location.
“There’s a little tinge of sadness for me because that car park is now standing on [the site where] a house that I lived in when I first came here as a resident medical officer,” he said.
“You’re probably saying, ‘What was so special about that?’ Well, I was in one house and my wife Kerin Fielding was in the house next door.
“Anyway, I’ll leave the rest to your imagination … I’m not going to say there’s a certain sacredness but I’m going to look at the car park in a special sort of way.”
Dr McGirr thanked the health services staff, senior management, former health minister Brad Hazzard, the former government and the current one.
“For all the work that we do, the great work that we do, we know there is so much more that can be done,” he said.
Ms Ludford thanked the hospital staff who had worked for 11 years with construction disruption around them.
“They [the staff] have been deeply involved in the planning and this hospital is what it is because of their thoughts, ideas and their future thinking,” she said.
“Rural people are innovative and adaptive, mainly because we have to be and that’s our strength.”
Ms Ludford said the car park was recognition that it was not just the hospital for the people of Wagga, but the region.
The project follows the $431m Wagga Wagga Health Service Redevelopment, which was completed in 2021.