Rydges Wollongong is committed to its development into a mental health centre, despite a three-month delay in work announced this week.
The development partnership between Australian Property Trust and Evolution Health Care was announced in September 2011. It will see the Burelli St premises transform from a 70-room luxury hotel into a 90-bed private psychiatric care facility.
Originally scheduled to open in the first quarter of this year, the project now requires further planning permission to complete its development, with new documents currently under the consideration of Wollongong City Council.
The facility – to be known as the Wollongong Clinic – will include services to deal with a broad range of mental illnesses, ranging from alcohol and substance abuse to post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.
The Clinic is projected to create around 80 full-time jobs, many of which will be sourced from within current hotel staff.
Despite the delay, general manager Paul Myjavec told the Illawarra Mercury that he was confident the centre would be able to attract clinical staff from the region.
‘‘A lot of people in this field have had to go to Sydney for work and we’ve had a lot of interest from those people who want to come back home and work in a different setting,’’ he said.
However, University of Wollongong Psychology Professor Frank Deane said that there were still many questions that needed to be answered by developers.
“For example, how do people using the facility pay for treatment? How will their services fit within the spectrum of services already being provided in public health spaces – such as community mental health and hospital psychiatric units?” Professor Deane said.
Local mental health service providers also claimed they were in the dark regarding the centre’s goals, stating that there had been no discussion on the issue and they only had knowledge of what had been in the local news.
“I really can’t say what will be happening there,” said Wollongong Hospital Media and Communications Manager Anita Baltovska.
“We’ll continue to provide services of course, but due to it being a private facility we haven’t been consulted at all, nor do we know what exactly they’ll be providing.”
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