FLASHBACK: Wayne Kratzmann in 2016 when the South Burnett Community Hospital Foundation was formed

 ‘It Is A Serious
Issue For Us’

South Bank Day Hospital Executive Director Prof Mark Radford, above, said the company had to make a profit to keep the hospital open.

However, he did not have shareholders to satisfy and the Lady Bjelke-Petersen Hospital played a very important role in the South Burnett and wider communities.

“We like to think of it as ‘profit-for-purpose’,” he said.

Prof Radford admitted it had been a struggle to keep the hospital open but they had managed.

However, Queensland Health has new guidelines and requirements which will come into effect in the second half of next year.

Upgrades costing about $350,000 are necessary to meet these requirements.

“We have been lobbying Council, the Federal and State government health departments to see what we can do to keep the hospital open; to see what grants are around,” Prof Radford said.

“We are keen to do all that we can to ensure the hospital remains an important part of the community.

“It is a serious issue. A priority for us.”

He said South Bank Day Hospital did not have an “internal date” as a deadline but the new guidelines from Queensland Health had set an “external date” that had to be met.

He emphasised the hospital did not duplicate the services at the public hospital, and visiting specialists had been very supportive.

December 2, 2020

The “clock is ticking” for the future of the Lady Bjelke-Petersen Community Hospital in Kingaroy, says the chairman of the not-for-profit foundation charged with raising funds to support it.

Former South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann, who campaigned long and hard to keep the hospital open five years ago, told southburnett.com.au he doesn’t know how long the company currently running the hospital can keep it operating without getting some government help – either State or Federal.

He said South Bank Day Hospital had the “heart, passion and commitment” but could not keep losing money on it.

Mr Kratzmann said the operating theatre required an upgrade – not immediately, but within the next six months – which would cost $350,000.

As well, operating costs of $100,000 to $200,000 a year needed to be covered.

“It sounds like a lot of money to you or me but it would be a drop in the ocean for the Federal Government,” Mr Kratzmann said.

He had approached the Federal Government “at length” but had received no response and “they’re not taking my calls any more”.

He said the problem was that neither the State or Federal governments would take responsibility.

“The State Government says it looks after public hospitals,” he said.

“The Federal Government says all the health money goes to the State Government to be distributed.”

He emphasised that although it was a “private” hospital not all the people it helped were private patients, and it actually freed up resources at the public hospital.

Mr Kratzmann said it was incredible that in a year when there was a pandemic, a hospital could not get funding.

He said money had been pouring into tourism and other businesses “but we can’t get $350,000 to upgrade an operating theatre”.

“There are people who have actually made money out of COVID but this is a hospital that saves lives!”

He said the Lady Bjelke-Petersen Community Hospital had been operating a very successful wound care service, where staff would visit elderly patients in their homes to dress wounds and change bandages.

However, about 18 months ago the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN – the Federal Government-endorsed body which co-ordinates a range of different health services in the region – abruptly “pulled the pin” on the funding.

“The numbers were growing and then all of a sudden we were contacted by a PHN bureaucrat,” Mr Kratzmann said.

“It was abysmal. The community had endorsed the service. We had been loaned a car from Bill Hull Car Centre and we simply had to give it back.”

Mr Kratzmann said he had tried to get the wound service decision reviewed, but to no avail.

“The majority of the funding given to the State Government is distributed by the PHN. But it’s like talking to a wall,” he said.

“Darling Downs Health don’t want to know about us, either.”

Mr Kratzmann said the State Government would probably point to the imminent opening of the new public hospital in Kingaroy as the solution to demand in the community, but he said the Community Hospital provided services not available there.

“It should be about the people, the South Burnett people, helping them … not about who is treating who,” he said.

He said there were about a dozen visiting specialists who were seeing patients at the Community Hospital, saving patients the long trip to Brisbane or Toowoomba.

“They’re doing an amazing job,” Mr Kratzmann said. “We are saving lives yet we can’t get any guarantee of funding.

“We’re talking about people’s lives. We’re talking about a tiny amount of money. We’re talking about surety.”

He feared a situation could develop similar to what happened when the previous operators, Pulse Health, pulled out of the hospital’s management in 2015.

There was a gap of almost a year before South Bank Day Hospital took over – but during that time all the visiting specialists disappeared and it had taken a lot of work to convince them to return.

The hospital building is owned by the South Burnett Regional Council but Mr Kratzmann said funds to run the actual hospital should not be a Local Government responsibility.

“We simply have to find a way to raise the funds or we put up our hands and say we can’t do it any more,” he said.

“For a hospital to close after the year that we have seen, is ludicrous.”

southburnett.com.au has approached the Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN for comment.

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2 Responses to "‘Clock Ticking’ For Private Hospital"

  1. Carol  December 3, 2020

    What a sad state of affairs. I can’t believe this is happening again.

  2. Steph Stevens  December 7, 2020

    Do you think philanthropy.org.au might consider a grant?


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