St Stephen's Hospital in M'boro to shutdown late next year
ST STEPHEN'S Hospital in Maryborough will close its doors late next year, when the new $87.5 million Hervey Bay hospital starts treating patients.
The hospital's general manager Leanne Tones said patient numbers at Maryborough had declined in recent years due to limitations on the types of care that could be provided there.
Ms Tones said a number of complex issues had affected the viability of the hospital, including lack of acute support in Maryborough and the trend of specialists living in Hervey Bay.
"St Stephen's acknowledges the closure of the hospital in Maryborough represents a significant loss to the local community," Ms Tones said.
"We are committed to minimising the impact by working with Maryborough patients and their families to ensure access to acute specialists and services."
She said the Maryborough hospital would continue to provide acute inpatient services in Maryborough until late 2014 when the new state-of-the-art Hervey Bay campus was completed.
"Specialists will continue to consult at St Stephen's Medical Centre in Maryborough, and transport options and support strategies will be developed in consultation with patients, families, staff and volunteers to assist patients to make very good use of the new hospital in Hervey Bay," she said.
"We are trying to minimise the impact and will be talking to the community about what they need, and what uses they can see for the building.
"It could be used for a uni, TAFE, school, council, palliative care - it's a good site."
No decision has been made about whether the building will be sold or leased.
Ms Tones said there would be no forced redundancies, with staff offered the opportunity to relocate to the Hervey Bay Hospital.
"The entire Fraser Coast community will benefit from the new hospital, offering higher level care to medical and surgical patients, increased service complexity and the introduction of new clinical specialties," she said.
The new 96-bed facility at Hervey Bay will be the first fully-integrated "digital hospital" in Australia and is scheduled to start treating patients from September 2014.
Member for Maryborough Anne Maddern said she was saddened by the closure and would continue to investigate alternative options to use the facility.
"As always, the health care of our community is a prime concern and will continue to be so," she said.
"While the Maryborough facility of St Stephen's is closing the Hervey Bay facility will be opened, so private patients will still be able to access care."
A spokeswoman for health minister Lawrence Springborg said his office was confident that the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Services will continue to provide quality health services to the Fraser Coast.