St Stephen’s Private Hospital in Maryborough may be under threat of closing, with the proposed opening of a new $50m state-of-the-art hospital.
St Stephen’s Private Hospital in Maryborough may be under threat of closing, with the proposed opening of a new $50m state-of-the-art hospital. Jocelyn Watts

New $50m hospital plans underway

PLANS ARE rapidly advancing for a new state-of-the-art $50 million private hospital for Hervey Bay.

But while that will be a blessing for Bay residents it may well come at a major cost to Maryborough with the possible closure of St Stephen’s Private Hospital.

“We continue to review options for Maryborough, though any planning is contingent upon the time frames and potential approval of the Hervey Bay facility,” Leanne Tones, the general manager of Maryborough’s St Stephen’s Hospital, said yesterday.

The Chronicle understands the proposed new hospital will be discussed at the next meeting of the Qld UnitingCare Board in Brisbane.

“The hospital’s certainly not definite yet,” Ms Tones said.

“There are still a number of decision points within the Uniting Church before a final decision on the project is made.”

News of the proposed new hospital has placed a grey cloud over the future of St Stephen’s Hospital, prompting the LNP liaison officer for Maryborough, Anne Maddern, to call on UnitingCare Health to “clarify the situation in relation to St Stephen’s Hospital”.

“There are indications that the hospital is to be closed and if this is the case, the timing of the closure of the hospital could have a serious impact on the provision of health services for Maryborough and Hervey Bay.”

Ms Maddern said closure of the Maryborough facility before completion of the proposed hospital in Hervey Bay would result in the loss of 58 hospital beds and 12 day surgery beds from the Maryborough/Hervey Bay area.

“Patients currently being treated at the private hospital facility would then have to fall back on to the already overstretched public health system, with Maryborough patients being the most severely affected.

“The Maryborough community is feeling particularly vulnerable about the lack of health services currently provided by the Maryborough Base Hospital and uncertainty over provision of services at St Stephen’s just adds to the stress,” Ms Maddern said.

St Stephen’s Maryborough currently caters for acute medical and surgical admissions and for day surgery and is a member of the UnitingCare Health group of hospitals, which includes the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, Brisbane, and the Sunshine Coast Private Hospital, Buderim.

The new Hervey Bay master planned hospital will be capable of providing higher level surgical and medical services to the Fraser Coast region.

It will be built on a block of land opposite Hervey Bay Hospital, beside the current St Stephen’s day and oncology facility.

It’s understood the plan is to open with 100 beds and four operating theatres and completion of the project would be two years after the final Uniting Church approvals are obtained.

Ms Tones confirmed UnitingCare Health has been increasing its land holdings in the immediate area “so the project can expand over many years in pace with the corresponding growth of the Fraser Coast population”.

“Being opposite the existing Hervey Bay Hospital will mean there will be numerous possibilities to retain and attract doctors and nurses, adding services that benefit patients from both the private and public hospitals of the region.

“The master plan has come up with an excellent facility that will meet the needs of the community for at least the next 30 years. Eventually, the site could support a 180-bed hospital.”

UnitingCare also runs BlueCare and Lifeline on the Fraser Coast and throughout Qld.

News on the proposed new hospital has placed a grey cloud over the future of St Stephen’s Hospital in Maryborough



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