On 18 July 1937, the King George Memorial Bush Nursing Hospital opened to great fanfare in Main Street Mornington. The original building affectionately known as ‘The Bush’, housed eight beds in single, two and three bed wards, a nursery and labour room, and an operating theatre.
As part of the Australian Bush Nursing Association, the hospital was a self-funded, not for profit, and was innovative for the time.
Born out of The Great Depression, the hospital not only survived the economic hardship of those years, but also rapidly expanded under the regulations of the Second World War. The hospital grew with Mornington’s post-war population explosion, which continued well into the 1970s.
In the same timeframe, on the 17 July 1930, the Hastings Bush Nursing Hospital was established by Dr (Doc) Arthur Haywood of Bittern and a small group of enthusiastic locals. The site on the Cool Store Road included five patient beds, a staff bedroom and a sitting room. In 1936, HMAS Cerberus, (then known as the Flinders Naval Depot), funded the first operating room. A full operating theatre complex was opened in 1957 and further accommodation extensions occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. A new 14 bed nursing home annexe was opened on the site in 1978 and a high dependency residential care facility and the Westernport Hostel followed in later years.
Aged care has always been a priority at The Bays. In Mornington, an aged care unit opened in 1948. In 1980, the Andrew Kerr Memorial Children’s Home, on the corner of Tanti Avenue and Barkly Street, was purchased to be developed as an aged care facility. With the incorporation of the hospital and a change of name to the Mornington Bush Nursing Hospital in 1986, it was decided that the Andrew Kerr Frail and Aged Care complex should be a separate entity and absolute ownership was transferred to the new complex.
Bush nursing hospitals continued to thrive throughout Victoria, and played a vital role in the delivery of health services until the 1990s – when the political and economic landscape changed. Health insurance rates plummeted to 28 per cent and small bush nursing hospitals ceased to be viable and closed their doors.
Driven by those changes, the Boards of the Hastings and Mornington Bush Nursing Hospitals decided to amalgamate, and The Bays Hospital Group Inc. was created in 1997.
Our maternity unit is considered one of the finest in the country, and in 2013 Medibank Private customers awarded us the Highest Rated Maternity Unit in Australia. We’re very proud of that result and continue to work hard to improve on it in all areas of the hospital.
In recent years we have turned our focus to the development and expansion of services and facilities in anticipation of forecast growth and development in the region and of an ageing population.
2014–15 saw a number of new consulting suites built and some existing ones renovated in Mornington. Many local doctors have chosen to base their practice at our facilities and this enhances service delivery and helps us build valuable relationships with the practitioner community.
Our day infusion unit opened in January 2016. It broadens the scope of our services considerably to offer infusions and haematology as well as chemotherapy and oncology.
Our new maternity unit and the refurbishment of the birthing suites and special care nursery opened in 2017. It has modernised, refreshed and increased our capacity.
Our aged care redevelopment at Hastings was completed in 2020, increasing our capacity from 75 to 90 places.