Work on new St Stephen's hospital to begin in January

THE Fraser Coast's medical services will take a step into the future on January 7, when the first sod is turned for the new St Stephen's hospital in Hervey Bay.

The 96-bed facility will be the first fully-integrated "digital hospital" in Australia, using a state-of-the-art e-Health system for medical records and equipment.

Cockram Construction will build the $87.5 million private hospital, which is scheduled to start treating patients from September 2014.

St Stephen's general manager Leanne Tones said the construction company had already advertised for expressions of interest from local sub-contractors.

"We are so excited that we can now move on to the next steps in delivering this new hospital for the Fraser Coast," Ms Tones said.

"Cockram commenced early discussions with the Master Builders Association and local civil and structural engineering firms.

"They have been working closely with local builders and tradies to enhance the employment opportunities within the Fraser Coast."

Fences surrounding the site were erected last week ahead of the planned sod-turning ceremony.

Ms Tones said the building was scheduled to be ready for hand-over in August, 2014.

The e-Health system will then undergo rigorous testing, expected to take a month.

About 300 jobs will be created, from cleaners to doctors and nurses. The Federal Government has contributed a $47 million grant from its Health and Hospitals Fund towards the project's construction and e-Health costs.

With about 40% of people on the Fraser Coast covered by private health insurance or eligible through the Department of Veterans Affairs, the new hospital is expected to substantially ease the burden on public facilities.

The hospital will take pride of place in a planned medical precinct that will create a hub for both private and public health sectors, to attract specialists to

St Stephen's Hospital Hervey Bay

96-bed private facility

Australian-first digital health system for medical records and equipment

Construction to start in early January

Scheduled to open in September, 2014

Worth $87.5 million

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