1982 - the way we were
“It was an exciting time,” said Graham Hill, who was board chairman at the time. “The hospital was still over at Mooroopna when I arrived in the late 1970s.”
Mr Hill said there was a two storey building – the tallest in Shepparton at the time - and not much else on the 22 acre block at Graham Street back then.
“The building was done and had been sitting there for several years, as the Health Commission wouldn’t fund the move,” said Mr Hill. “It’s staggering to think of all that space, considering the extraordinary development since those days when it was just gravel roads and empty paddocks.”
The Goulburn Valley region had the highest population growth rate for regional Victorian centres at the time. Many services, such as paediatricians and emergency medical technicians, weren’t available.
“The hospital hadn’t met the demand of the community’s growth,” said Mr Hill. “Because of the increase in population, the waiting list here was the longest in the country.”
It was Member for Shepparton Peter Ross Edwards, who was both National Party leader and Deputy Premier of Victoria, who helped drive the push to make the hospital’s move from Mooroopna to Shepparton a priority.
“The government agreed to form a master plan for the development of the 22 acres,” said Mr Hill. “We started planning for the expansion, as we had a medical wing and a surgical wing, but nothing else.”
Mr Hill said limited funding meant that the hospital’s master plan had to be scaled down to fit the state government’s allocation, which is the point where the community stepped in.
“We were told we’d need to leave the children’s ward in Mooroopna, for example,” said Mr Hill. “That was ridiculous, so we held an appeal to help with the move. These were big things, and we were grateful we could go to the community to ask with help for funding.”
Shepparton’s growth in the ensuing decades has delighted Mr Hill.
“No one thought we’d fill that space and need even more land,” he said. “It’s just amazing, it’s booming.”
With the current redevelopment in full swing, Mr Hill is optimistic about the future of health care in the Goulburn Valley region.
“It was tough work, but we’ve gotten to where we are by making difficult decisions and thinking about priorities,” he said. “The community’s support and generosity along the way has been key, and now there’s a plan in place that will take us through for the next 50 years and beyond!”