The new Paediatrics and Special Care Nursery has opened its doors at Werribee Mercy Hospital.

Clinical director Dr Kathy McMahon said the newly renovated surgical ward has 12 beds.

She said the ward was staffed by 13 paediatricians, 10 junior medical staff and 26 nursing staff on rotation.

“At any one time there is between three doctors overseeing the ward and four nursing staff,” she said.

“The ward’s main ‘business’ is common general paediatric issues such as asthma, bronchiolitis, gastroenteritis, fever-related illnesses, jaundice and poor weight gain in babies.

“We also see a smattering of surgical issues in older children such as appendicitis and torsion of testicles.

“The only elective surgery at present is ear, nose and throat surgery.”

Dr McMahon said the Wyndham area was “growing rapidly, with the forecast that it will nearly double in size in the foreseeable future”.

“This will mean lots of new families with a large percentage of the population being under 18,” she said.

She said the need for children to be treated locally would lead to a need for the ward to be expanded in the long term.

“Not only will there be a need for a paediatric ward but also for a paediatric emergency department and an expanded special care nursery,” she said.

“It is important that families in our community have the same access to services as they have elsewhere in Victoria, and this will only occur with financial commitment from the state government to infrastructure and operational funding.

“We should all be about giving the best, safest care for our community locally, and that will involve expansion in the future.”