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© 2019 Rosemary Armitage MLC

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Launceston General Hospital

November 10, 2015

Mrs Armitage (Launceston) - Mr President, today I speak about the Launceston General Hospital, which is a precious jewel in Launceston's crown. The LGH celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2013 and it is widely regarded as one of Australia's most respect and progressive provincial hospitals outside the Melbourne Royal Hospital. It has the longest continuously operating X-ray department in Australia, having started in 1896. The only surgeon in Australia knighted for his pioneering surgery in the golden era of surgery, from 1890 to 1920, was Sir John Ramsay. It also has many great contributors, including Drs Drake, Ramsay, Craig, Holman and Grove, who were synonymous with medical development at the LGH, especially in the twentieth century.

 

The origins of Launceston's hospital can be traced back to the early 1800s when a tent inside the local military barracks on the site we now know as Royal Park was used to treat convicts and military officers. In 1820, Launceston's first public hospital, His Majesty's Colonial Hospital, was situated on the corner of Cameron and George streets but it changed locations over the years. In 1851 it would be renamed the Cornwall Hospital and Infirmary.

 

When transportation of convicts to Tasmania ended in 1853, one of the challenges was that there was not a hospital capable of providing medical treatment to those former convicts who had become free. In 1863, Launceston's new hospital opened on Mulgrave Square. It was renamed the Launceston General Hospital and had 102 beds - 74 for males and 28 for females. From 1937 through to the early 1940s, it was rebuilt in an art deco style on the same site. In 1981, the new LGH was established on the western side of Charles Street and incorporated, some years later, the Queen Victoria Hospital for Women.

 

An Examiner article from 11 April 1863 cited in the publication Launceston General Hospital: celebrating 150 years of caring details the hospital's attendances for the week ending 11 April 1863, when 53 men and 11 women received medical treatment there. Compare that to modern times whereby in 2014-15, 44 200 people presented to the LGH emergency department. During that period, there were in total 44 060 admissions to the LGH, of which 10 280 were via the emergency department with more than 29 000 from consultants' rooms and outpatients. The balance came from a range of other sources including, on a positive note, 1 522 newborns.

 

The Launceston General Hospital is northern Tasmania's major referral medical centre, the state's second largest hospital, and an accredited and greatly respected teaching hospital. It is undergoing more than $100 million of improvements with work starting in early 2016 on the expansion and refurbishment of the LGH's Allied Health Specialist Clinic and Outpatients Service.

 

The Launceston General Hospital has wonderful support from volunteers. In 201415, Tasmanian Health Organisation North's annual report shows the LGH Central Auxiliary has raised $2.8 million since 2001. Ninety volunteers run the hospital's kiosk which is open seven days a week. Another 60 volunteers give a combined 360 hours a week in a range of roles, including administration and on the wards. The hospital's auxiliary support comes from the central 4K children's ward, Holman Clinic cancer ward and palliative care health auxiliaries.

 

There is also the annual Give Me 5 for Kids Appeal broadcast on Southern Cross television which this year raised $234 223 to support the work of the LGH children's ward. Another initiative is whereby a Launceston mother and daughter, Carlene Reid and Theresa Atkins, have sewn 60 colourful capes as part of the Capes for Kids initiative. Sick children in hospital are given superhero capes as encouragement and strength.

 

The LGH historical committee, which incorporates the visual arts committee, established the Artrium gallery in 2013 for patients, staff and the general public to experience art in health and the benefits this brings to a hospital environment. They also wrote the book Launceston General Hospital: 150 years of caring in celebration of the achievements of the hospital since 1863.

 

These words, from the late Dr Clifford Craig's book, Launceston General Hospital: The First 100 years, hold true today:

 

The hospital has, by its own efforts, won an honourable position in the hospital world. It is far more difficult for a provincial hospital to maintain such a position than it is for a hospital in a large capital city.

 

The Launceston General Hospital has a cherished place in the hearts of thousands of people in Launceston and across northern Tasmania who use it every year.

 

We are incredibly grateful and blessed to have the dedicated service of the talented doctors, medical specialists, nurses and other staff at the LGH.

 

I know my fellow members will join in me in congratulating the LGH on its proud history of serving its community with great distinction.

 

 

 

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