Work underway for LRH mental health beds

Service gaps in mental health care at Latrobe Regional Hospital are being filled with the construction commencement of a $4.8 million State Government investment.

Works started on a five-bed mother-baby unit and a new six-bed mental health unit for high care patients at the hospital’s acute health services at Traralgon on Thursday.

The extension to the existing Flynn Acute Assessment Ward is said to take pressure off the emergency department, improve waiting times and keep mental health services in the local area.

LRH mental health director Cayte Hoppner said there was a significant need for an intensive mother-baby unit with all mothers and babies currently sent to Melbourne for intensive care.

Ms Hoppner said the community’s perinatal mental health service had seen a huge increase in referrals, providing midwifery services, maternal type nursing and supporting mothers at home.

“This is really a gap for those mums who need more intensive support and care,” she said.

Ms Hoppner said there was also demand for mental health beds, with the project expanding the acute unit, giving more access to people who need intensive observation and mental health nursing care.

State Member for Morwell Russell Northe and State Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood made the announcement on behalf of State Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge.

Mr Northe said the mother-baby unit service would provide intensive assessment, treatment and support to Gippsland mothers with acute mental illness closer to home, rather than travelling to Melbourne.

“And importantly, mothers and their babies will remain close to the support of their partners, families and friends,” he said.

Mr Blackwood said the investment would provide the Gippsland community with the highest level of mental health care and that he was pleased a local company was undertaking construction.

“These projects will deliver first class facilities and services for people with mental health issues in the Gippsland region,” he said.

The projects are expected to be completed in October next year.