A convoy of almost 15 transport vehicles ferried almost 100 patients to the new Maitland hospital on Wednesday, making Hunter history as the $470 million new development opened its doors.
There was no fanfare or ribbon cutting, just health workers getting on with the job to provide the city and the wider Hunter community with a state-of-the-art facility that will "future proof" a region.
Wednesday's large scale operation involved the relocation of hundreds of staff and patients, some of whom were suffering COVID-19.
Emergency department staff specialist Luke Burgess said the new hospital was "future proofing for the Lower Hunter area".
"It's a very large scale operation with 500 staff moving and 96 patients, 12 of whom have COVID-19, utilising 15 transport vehicles," he said.
"It is future proofing for the Lower Hunter area. It's bringing greater facilities to the staff, more capacity to the treat patients here and an increased scope in services.
"We are very excited to transition from the old site to the new site both for the staff and the community."
Dr Burgess added one of the key features of the new facility included two-thirds of the rooms being single bedrooms.
"It means we have greater capacity for patients with not only COVID-19 but infectious diseases as well,"
The new hospital services include a new 12-chair chemotherapy service, an MRI and an additional CT scanner, as well as a purpose-built "early treatment zone" in the emergency department.
There are expanded facilities for surgery, maternity and paediatric care, along with renal dialysis, oral health services and outpatient clinics.
A rooftop helipad connects patients directly to the hospital for fast and efficient treatment.
One of the first patients to be transported to the new Metford Road facility was Beatrice Mitchell, of Port Stephens, who praised the new hospital.
"They've done a good job ... The new facility is really lovely," she said.
From Wednesday, the staff, patients and services at the former Maitland Hospital site on High Street - which had just under 200 beds and has served the community for more than 175 years - will be directly transferred to the new 339-bed facility.
For Member for Maitland Jenny Aitchison, who has been an long time advocate for the new hospital, it's a huge milestone for the community. "This is a massive win for our community. Every single person in Maitland can drive past that hospital every day and feel proud and be reminded of what we all achieved," she said.
"Today will not be a day of cutting ribbons, it's a day of hard slog for all of our hard working health staff that has been months in the planning.
"There has been logistical support from all hospitals across the network to help achieve what we believe is one of the biggest movements of patients in a peacetime setting.
"I must give a huge thank you to all the health workers who will be involved from paramedics, ward's people, security, cleaners, nurses and midwives and doctors."
The former Maitland Hospital on High Street is now closed to the public however no announcement has been made about its future.
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