St Stephens Hospital general manager Leanne Tones and director of nursing Jill O’Brien are excited about Hervey Bay’s new hospital.
St Stephens Hospital general manager Leanne Tones and director of nursing Jill O’Brien are excited about Hervey Bay’s new hospital. Clementine Norton

Hospital will attract specialists

THE first sod on the site of the new St Stephen's Private Hospital in Hervey Bay is expected to be turned in just eight months time.

St Stephens general manager Leanne Tones has also forecast that the entire project will be in operation by the middle of 2013.

“Given the critical need for the hospital, we hope to proceed to detailed designs within three weeks and to commence building early 2012,” Ms Tones said.

“There will be new jobs created for about 300 staff, from doctors and nurses to catering staff and cleaners, and the state-of-the-art system is expected to attract specialists from across Australia.

“We've just recruited an Australian-trained cardiologist, who will be the first resident cardiologist for the Fraser Coast in about 10 years.”

Ms Tones said the hospital was also hoping to recruit the region's first resident oncologist, who would be able to work in both the private and public sectors.

“It means increased medical capability for the region, and reduced pressure on the public system,” she said.

“We will be working with the public sector to attract more professionals and build a real partnership.”

The hospital will also offer training for nursing students and allied health placements.

Queensland Health's Wide Bay Health Service District CEO Ken Whelan said the new hospital's location opposite the existing Hervey Bay Hospital would lend itself to pooling resources.

“When you bring specialists into the region, they often want to do both public and private work so we will be able to share resources,” Mr Whelan said.

“It enables both facilities to grow when we can look at joint recruitment.”

He said while the Queensland Health hospital did struggle to keep its elective surgery waiting lists under control, the private hospital would ease some of the strain.

“Being able to share staff and resources will help waiting lists,” Mr Whelan said.

“It opens up a whole new world.”

Member for Hinkler Paul Neville said he had backed the $47 million proposal to expand the hospital and introduce an e-health regime since it was first suggested.

“The St Stephen's hospital expansion will provide better health facilities for Hervey Bay in particular, and more generally, the entire Fraser Coast region,” he said.

“The government has been well aware of my calls for the project to be funded, and I'm pleased that they have come on board by providing funding under Round Three of the Health and Hospitals Fund program.”



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