Time running out for St Stephen's in M'boro

THE countdown is on and St Stephen's Maryborough will close its doors unless a deal can be struck within the next few months.

Acting general manager Terence Seymour said the hospital was likely to close when the new $87.5 million St Stephen's medical precinct opened in October.

The first patients are set to be admitted to Hervey Bay on October 13, with St Stephen's Maryborough ceasing operation soon after on October 20.

The hospital has been part of the Maryborough community for more than 100 years and has treated an average of 300 patients a month over the past year.

However, hope is not lost, with Mr Seymour confirming Uniting Care health is in the process of talking to a number of parties about to keeping the hospital going.

But even if a deal is struck, Maryborough residents will need to travel to Hervey Bay for surgery.

"In the short term I can tell you I'm focusing on maintaining this site as a centre of employment if that's at all possible, if not well I can't tell you what we will rule in or rule out," Mr Seymour said.

"From a Uniting Care health perspective, if we are able to retain this hospital as a functioning hospital it will not be our major surgical centre as it currently is. The majority of our surgery will be taken to Hervey Bay, if not all of our surgery."

Discussions are still taking place between a number of interested parties, most recently with the Maryborough and Hervey Bay Friendly Society Chemists board who are said to be considering taking over the facility and maintaining it in its current state.

But neither the Friendly Society nor Mr Seymour were able to comment about negotiations.

Maryborough resident Peter Olds, who was a St Stephen's board member of 30 years, has been a strong advocate for saving the hospital, said he had been contacted by countless community members that share his concerns.

"That hospital was built by the community for this community," he said.

"I go down to the market Thursday mornings and I can't go very many steps without someone saying to me 'How's St Stephen's'.

"They can't believe this is happening."

Mr Seymour said discussions between Uniting Care health, the chief executive of Uniting Care Queensland and the board would continue.

"My advice is that we do not sell this site because I think there is a future for it," he said.



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