Maryborough Hospital future unsure

NEGLECTED nurses’ quarters, a lack of a fully resourced accident and emergency department and secret government plans to further downgrade Maryborough’s historic hospital will soon spell its death knell.

Local health professionals and lobby group heads are concerned over the iconic hospitals’ future.

“This hospital, together with the health service of the region, continues to suffer from a lack of a service delivery plan, a well thought-out plan for the future of this once great institution,” the region’s health focus group chairman, Gerard O’Connell, said yesterday.

“It’s very likely Maryborough will be replaced with a small A and E-cum-triaging centre with half a dozen token beds, built on the old Yaralla Place site,” local GP Paul Cotton said yesterday.

“Local people now need to fight at local level to save our hospital and to restore it to its former significance as the major health provider in the region.

“Hervey Bay Hospital was announced and built on the run of political expediency and now it can’t cope.

“Maryborough Hospital is an iconic building and an iconic institution and it’s been so severely downgraded it’s obviously being primed to become a demolition casualty.”

But Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay health service district northern cluster manager Beth Norton defies Mr O’Connell and Dr Cotton’s predictions.

“There are no plans to downgrade health services at Maryborough Hospital,” Ms Norton said.

“Since 2005, Maryborough Hospital has employed 99 more doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.

“Maryborough Hospital is a 76-bed facility that provides operating theatres, day procedure, elective surgery, emergency department, paediatric (low risk), orthopaedic surgery, ophthalmology, pathology, medical imaging, mental health unit, oral health, post natal care, palliative care, chemotherapy, sub-acute care, infection control and a needle availability service.”

Local MP Chris Foley says he’s bringing Health Minister Paul Lucas to Maryborough in January.

But Dr Cotton is fearful the minister will announce a new hospital service on the old Yaralla site.

“I believe government plans are well underway to pension off our Maryborough Hospital for a small placating hospital in its place.”

Last week the Chronicle invited Mr Foley to give his views on the hospital’s current and future position but he was unable to respond during this holiday period.

Dr Cotton said: “Maryborough should be a medical and a health centre of excellence, which would not only access patients to public services but would also better and further drive our local economy.”

“The Fraser Coast has one of the lowest bed numbers per capita in Australia.

“The national access block, the inability to get people into hospital beds in a timely way kills as many people as on the roads.

“At a time locally, when we more than ever need greater access, plans are well advanced to pension off the Maryborough Hospital.”

Maryborough Hospital is an iconic place in the hearts and minds of the people of this city and throughout this whole region, Gerard O’Connell says.

“For generations it has been the place that cared for and treated our loved ones, trained our nurses, employed hundreds of our families and friends and contributed to the economy and well being of the Fraser Coast region.

“In 2005 the 22 councils of the Wide Bay Burnett area met and with health as the major issue for our respective communities, the health focus group was formed.

“The Health Focus Group is an apolitical group, not interested in self enhancement, but driven by a desire to seek and promote real solutions to the issues of health services throughout our region and also particularly the ongoing and improved operation of the Maryborough Hospital.

“When a few years ago, it was announced that the hospital would close the Focus Group stepped-up our campaign to keep the hospital open and more importantly increase it’s services to the region’s residents and visitors alike.

“We have lobbied health ministers and senior managers to provide a much needed fully resourced accident and emergency department, complete with a modern and fully functional CAT Scan, and to conduct a thorough clinical audit of the hospital.”

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