MOUNT Gambier Hospital staff will today have access to a new car park to alleviate the shortage of public spaces.
While the project has taken around 10 years to get off the ground, the 64-space extension of the secure staff car park was officially unveiled yesterday.
Hospital executives, health leaders and Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell yesterday inspected the new car park which is tucked away at the rear of the facility.
The width of new car parks has been widened following public outcry over the narrow spaces at the front of the facility.
Health workers have also been warned they will be fined if they continue to park in public spaces from today.
Workers will also repair damaged sprinklers scattered on lawn areas of the hospital, which were broken when frustrated motorists ripped out timber bollards to park on grassed areas.
A makeshift overflow car park is also being constructed for both staff and the public to ensure there are no shortfalls.
Overall, the facility is pouring $350,000 into resolving car park issues for the community.
Nursing and midwifery executive director Paul Bullen said there were now an additional 64 car parks for the public.
He said designated government car parks at the side of the hospital had been freed up for the community.
“Staff have been notified not to park in the car park in front of accident and emergency this car park is for the public,” Mr Bullen said.
“We believe we have enough parks now to cater for staff.”
Mr Bullen revealed the narrow public car park spaces would be widened given feedback from the community.
“We will reduce the number of car park spaces a little bit to widen them because a lot of cars parking there are fourwheel-drives and utes. They take up more space and it is very tight to park,” he said.
These car parks are expected to be widened by around eight inches.
Construction of an overflow parking area is also under way, which will be adjacent the secure staff car park.
“If people who cannot find a park or have a larger vehicle will be able to park there. It will not be gated and will be flat,” Mr Bullen explained.
He predicted this area would resolve any lingering issues during peak periods.
Regarding damage to the sprinklers on grass areas, he said these timber bollards were positioned there to protect this infrastructure.
“These areas have been damaged and we will be slowly repairing them, which will cost around $11,000. We need to fix them and put the posts back up.”
Limestone Coast Local Health Network governing board chair Grant King said he was pleased the car park was completed.
“Car parking has always been an issue here. The city has grown and it is a serious regional centre now. People need to be able to park here,” Mr King said.
In particular, he described the spill-over car park as a good concept.
“We have plenty of room for more of those, so we will keep an eye on it,” the health leader said.
Member for Mount Gambier Troy – who previously said cars at the facility were stacked up like sardines – yesterday welcomed the project.
“This shows the benefit of having a regional health board that is responsive to local community needs,” a delighted Mr Bell said.
“It has been a long-term frustration of many residents and it is great to see it completed.”
Mount Gambier and District Health Advisory Council presiding member Maureen Klintberg echoed similar comments.
“The issue of car parking has been raised for a long time and I acknowledge the work of the board and hospital staff. It has been a collaborative approach by all parties to bring this to fruition,” Ms Klintberg said.
While the parking shortfall had fuelled angst in the community, she said it also demonstrated the fact services had increased.
“We now have so many more visiting specialists.”
• 449 car parks (overall)
• 191 public car parks
• 450 staff (over a 24 hour period)