Central Highlands Rural Health formed in 2019 following the voluntary amalgamation of Kyneton District Health and Hepburn Health Service.
This new organisation aims to meet the future health care needs of a growing population, deliver more and new services locally and provide greater access to high quality for locals in each community.
The history of both organisations is long, and each health service played a very important role in the communities they served. Central Highlands Rural Health continues the work of those that have gone before us providing essential services that people rely upon every day.
The original Clunes Hospital, consisting of 40 Patients Beds together with Staff Accommodation was officially opened on 9 August 1871. Incorporation of The Clunes District Hospital was effected by the Governor-in-Council on 23 October 1871. The Hospital was remodelled in the early 1930s and reduced to a single storey building of 15 beds.
In January 1944, the remodelled Hospital was totally destroyed in a bushfire which ravaged the township and district. A modern 14 bed Hospital and all facilities was constructed to replace those destroyed, at a cost in the vicinity of $46,000. The new Hospital was officially opened on 24 March 1948 by the late Hon. John Cain, MLA.
As from 1 July 1987, 10 Acute Hospital Beds were officially reclassified as Nursing Home Beds, leaving 4 beds for Acute Hospital purposes. The Clunes District Hospital converted to a primary care facility in July 1994 and has since been operating as the Clunes District Health Service. The formal change of name for legal purposes occurred in the 1995/96 financial year.
The Clunes District Health Service was established following the closure of acute and nursing home beds due to budgetary pressures. A range of community based services are now provided from the Hospital.
On 1 April 1998 the Clunes District Health Service officially amalgamated with Western Highlands Health Service and Trentham Bush Nursing Hospital to form a new entity, to be known as Hepburn Health Service.
The Creswick Hospital has a long and distinguished record of serving the people of Creswick and surrounding district.
The original Hospital was located on Eastern Hill on five acres which was gazetted as a Hospital Reserve on 11 June 1860. After many meetings and fundraising functions, the Hospital was built and formally opened on 11 December 1863, with the first patient, Mr Hugh Cushing being admitted on 12 December 1863. Mr Cushing was injured in an accident at the Sons of Justice Claim at Bald Hills.
Dr Hayden Starke was the first of many distinguished Resident Medical Officers, being appointed on 1 December 1863, a position he held for eight years. Another notable medical officer was Dr Robert Charles Lindsay (of Irish descent) who arrived in 1864 and had a long association with the Hospital as Honorary Medical Officer, and acted as Medical Officer on many occasions. The doctor’s Irish bonhomie was inherited by members of his family who have become legendary figures in the world of Australian art and literature.
The Hospital Reserve was regazetted in June 1864 and increased in size to eight and a quarter acres. Plans for the new wing were approved in November 1866 with new brick additions and alterations in 1868. December 1868 saw the road to the Hospital being put in order and in January 1869 and August 1887, water and gas were put on respectively.
In 1909, the question of building a new Hospital was considered and a site at the north of Napier Street acquired. This is the site of the current Hospital. In 1912 the Hospital transferred to its current location and the original Hospital became the property of the then Forestry Department and is the home of the Victorian School of Forestry. The keys to the new building were handed over on 24 September 1912 and the land was made over to the Government for permanent reservation as a site for the Hospital. After a static period over the war years a major advance was the building of an infectious diseases ward. This functioned for many years.
During the 1940s, plans for a maternity wing had been discussed owing to the probability of the private maternity hospital of Sister Huffer being closed. On 16 October 1951, the new maternity wing additions to the main hospital and nurse’s quarters were officially opened by Lady Brooks.
Since the 1950s changes to the structure of the Hospital have been made which include relocation of office areas and some wards and renovations to the kitchen, ablution areas, wards and service facilities. In more recent years, the Hospital has developed new services such as District Nursing Meals on Wheels, X-Ray, Physiotherapy, Podiatry and the Creswick Adult Day Activity Centre.
In July 1988 theatre at the Hospital ceased, a major disappointment in view of the fact that theatre had been undertaken at the Hospital since 1863.
In 1991 the Board of Management undertook to challenge the Government on their attitude to redevelopment at Creswick. A public campaign was mounted but the Government continued to deny Creswick acute beds.
In May 1992 the Board of Management agreed to the redevelopment of services to be carried out in two stages requiring 10 acute beds to remain on site at Creswick during the construction and another 20 nursing home beds be temporarily relocated to the Queen Elizabeth Geriatric Centre.
On 11 August 1992, the contract was signed with A.W. Nicholson to commence the redevelopment, with Balcombe Griffiths Associates as architects and excavation of the site commenced immediately with foundations in place at the end of September. The redevelopment progressed quickly. Stage 1 was completed in June and acute patients were transferred in the Nursing Home in order to commence Stage 2, on 24 June. The Nursing Home featured Federation style balustrades and lattice work to complement the old Hospital.
In October 1993 the first of the Nursing Home residents returned to Creswick, to an environment much appreciated by residents and their families. The acute unit of ten beds has been refurbished and new bathrooms and ensuites added to three single rooms. A nurse base merges the two units. Up to date security and communications systems have been included in the redevelopment
The new facility was officially opened in February 1994 by the Hon. Rob Knowles, Minister for Housing and Aged Care. Hospital Auxiliary members were presented with Service Awards on the day. Members of the community, supporters of the appeal and visitors from the Department of Health and Community Services were part of a large crowd in attendance.
Creswick and Daylesford Hospitals amalgamated on 1 January 1995 to form the Western Highlands Health Service.
The Daylesford Hospital has a long and distinguished record of serving the people of Daylesford and surrounding district.
A provisional committee was formed in January of 1861 to deal with all the transactions necessary to prepare for the construction of the Hospital. On 11 September of the same year the Board of Lands and Survey advised the committee that a grant of five acres of land (on which the Hospital now stands) had been gazetted.
Tenders for the building of the centre and two wings were called, and on 26th October 1861 Messrs Bruce Bros. tender of 2020 pounds was accepted. Dr J P Hill was appointed the first House Surgeon in July 1862 and in the same month Mrs Lovelock was appointed Matron.
The next major step in the Hospitals development was brought about by a specific bequest of 1,000 pounds from the estate of the Hon. W. E. Stanbridge, M.L.C. who expressed a wish in his Will for the erection of a female Ward. Messrs lnsby and Butler, of Melbourne, were appointed as Architects to draw up the plans for the new Female Wards, and tenders were called in 1896. The plans called for the removal of the Hospital roof and the building of two female Wards, and Nurses bedrooms, as the first floor of the existing building. The successful tenderer, Mr P Rodgers, commenced the work in 1896, and completed the contract in May 1897.
It was during this period that the Hon. Donald McLeod served this Hospital as President for 25 consecutive terms. Mr McLeod was first elected President in 1880, and remained in office until 1914. The Hospital was indeed fortunate to have the services and advice of such prominent men during the early part of its history.
After a period of remaining more or less static during the war and the years that followed, a general change took place in the organisation of charitable institutions. The Hospital was no longer a benevolent asylum solely for the use of the indigent and the dying. Medical science had advanced to such a degree that the Hospital had to be re-equipped and staff re-organised to cope with this advancement.
By 1935 it was evident to the Committee of the day that a major remodelling programme had to be considered if the Hospital was to conform with the new trends in hospital accommodation.
The Committee, of which Mr E Zelman was then President, waited upon the Charities Board, and were rewarded with a promise of a grant of 4,000 pounds. A Government loan of a further 4,000 pounds, repayable over a period of years, was also promised, enabling the Committee to proceed with the complete remodelling of the Wards, theatre and kitchen, at a cost of 8000 pounds. As the years passed, there were times when it was felt that because of staff shortages the Hospital might have to close, but it managed to surmount these difficulties, and today is stronger, if anything, than at any time in its previous history.
The Nurses Home was completed in 1958 at a cost of 17,500 pounds and was opened on 7 December 1958, by the Chairman of the Hospitals and Charities Commission, Dr J H Lindell.
Stage One of the remodelling programme was completed in 1964, and the new Physiotherapy Block was opened by the hospital’s Senior Medical Officer, Dr JCM Harper on l0 May 1964. In more recent years the Nurse’s Home was refurbished as a 12 bed Aged Care Hostel and is still operating as Lumeah Lodge today.
In the late 1980s a further major refurbishment of the Hospital occurred and involved the development of a new Theatre Wing, 20 acute beds and 15 nursing home beds. This project was completed in 1980 at a cost of $1.3million with the Government providing $950,000, the Hospital $100,000 and the balance being raised by the community.
Planning for a major redevelopment of the Daylesford Hospital and Community Health Centre was facilitated through a masterplan and feasibility study, which was completed in February 2000. Shortly after, architects Silver Thomas Hanley were appointed and the redevelopment work commenced. The project, completed in October 2003, comprised a refurbishment and expansion of the Community Health Centre; a new 30-bed Aged Residential Care Unit; and a major upgrade of the Acute facilities and birthing suite. The cost of the redevelopment was $6.2 million, of which the community contributed $500,000. The refurbished facilities were officially opened by Minister for Health, Bronwyn Pike on 4 December 2003.
Daylesford and Creswick Hospitals amalgamated on 1 January 1995 to form the Western Highlands Health Service. The HHS was formed on 1 April 1998 through the amalgamation of the Western Highlands Health Service, Trentham Bush Nursing Hospital and Clunes Health Service.
Kyneton District Health has been a part of the community for over 160 years. The original bluestone hospital atop the Wedge Street hill was officially opened in 1854.
It wasn’t until 1932 that babies were delivered. Until then small private hospitals provided home visit midwifery services across the township.
Back then times were tough. Cold winters and dry hot summers took their toll on locals and those travelling through to the Bendigo Goldfields. The main street was frequently a boggy mess.
As time went on, the hospital cared for patients through contagious disease outbreaks, injured soldiers returning from War, accidents, injury and everything that life threw at the early residents of Kyneton and surrounding areas.
At the turn of the 21st century, developments in healthcare and local population growth meant it was time for modern facilities.
The new hospital in Caroline Chisholm Drive was opened by the Premier in 2003, and our $7.4M Ambulatory Care Centre was unveiled in 2015.
In 2017 KDH was announced as the Premier’s Small Rural Health Service of the Year.
Trentham Bush Nursing Hospital was officially opened by His Excellency the Governor and Lady Huntingfield on 7 September 1934. The project was financed by the residents of the Trentham district, with the assistance of The Argus Trust.
The hospital gradually expanded from four beds to nine and then fifteen. A midwifery service was provided until 1986 and for many years surgery was also carried out. In October 1965 a new wing and additions were opened, and in March 1981, with the assistance of The Thrum Estate, extensive renovations were completed and a new wing, to be known as The Thrum Wing, was opened. The hospital could now accommodate fifteen acute patients and continued to provide midwifery and a valuable outpatient service.
The Church of England kindly donated land adjacent to the church in High Street and in 1984 a Retirement Village complex was built, consisting of five units, consulting rooms and an Adult Day Care Centre. The complete building cost of $400,000 was supplied from hospital funds.
The hospital opened its Adult Day Care Centre in March 1985 and completely funded the service until Home and Community Care funding was received in November 1988, a cost to the hospital of approximately $60,000. The Day Centre continues to operate one day per week.
In 1986, due to a decrease in demand, birthing services ceased to be provided by the hospital, however, up until 1996 midwifery patients were still transferring to the hospital with their babies after giving birth.
In line with the hospital’s policy for expansion of services, in February 1988 the former State Bank residence adjacent to the hospital was purchased for the price of $60,700 with a view to the possible provision of hostel accommodation in the future. The house was rented out until, in November 1993, it was demolished to make way for a new 20 bed hostel.
Building of the hostel commenced in December 1993 and on 10 October 1994 the first residents took up occupancy. The cost of building the hostel was assisted by a Commonwealth grant of $597,000 and a contribution of $20,000 from Department of Veterans Affairs. Apart from a number of donations from Philanthropic Trusts, the remainder of the $1.1m cost was donated by the residents of Trentham and surrounding districts, following a three year appeal which raised over $550,000 – a magnificent effort by a town with such a small population.
It was initially thought that the new hostel would ensure the viability of the Trentham Bush Nursing Hospital complex, however by mid 1997 it became clear to the Committee of Management that without Government funding the hospital would not survive. For many years fourteen of the fifteen acute beds were traditionally occupied by nursing home type patients and the financial drain on the hospital was becoming more evident.
The Committee of Management had been attempting to obtain Nursing Home beds for some time to increase revenue. At the request of the Department of Human Services a Needs Assessment and Service Plan was carried out in May 1997. In late 1997, based on recommendations from the Needs Survey and discussions with Western Highlands Health Service, the Committee of Management made a decision to amalgamate with Western Highlands Health Service and Clunes Health Service. This was an extremely difficult decision for the Committee of Management to make, but was necessary to ensure the continuation of health services in Trentham.
With the support of Western Highlands Health Service and the Department of Human Services, the Committee of Management applied for fifteen nursing home beds in December 1997. Approval was granted in March 1998 and on 31 March 1998 the existing fifteen acute beds were closed and re-opened as nursing home beds.
On 1 April 1998 Trentham Bush Nursing Hospital officially amalgamated with Western Highlands Health Service and Clunes Health Service to form a new entity, to be known as Hepburn Health Service. After sixty four years the hospital ceased its affiliation with the Victorian Bush Nursing Association and became part of the public hospital system.
Nursing Home, Hostel and Retirement Village accommodation continues to be provided at Trentham, and an outpatient and Day Care Centre service still operate.
Hepburn Health Service
Hepburn Health Service (HHS) was formed on 1 April 1998 through the amalgamation of Western Highlands Health Service, Clunes District Health Service and Trentham Bush Nursing Hospital.
The Western Highlands Health Service was formed in January 1995 through the amalgamation of Daylesford and Creswick Hospitals. The Daylesford Community Health Centre and Lumeah Lodge Aged Care Hostel were also incorporated into the Health Service during 1995.
Daylesford, Creswick, Clunes and Trentham Hospitals all had long and distinguished records of providing services to their respective communities and the decision to amalgamate was only taken after due and careful consideration. Discussions took place between the three Boards of Management and it was finally agreed that a larger integrated health service would result in a stronger organisation in terms of viability and service development.