March 10, 2021
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath has responded to letters from local MP Deb Frecklington in regards to flooding and demolition work at the new Kingaroy Hospital, but questions about staffing levels still remain unanswered.
Mrs Frecklington wrote to the Minister on January 27 in regards to claims by patients of “flooding” in the hospital after a short storm in mid-January.
Bureau of Meteorology statistics show 37.2mm of rain was recorded at Kingaroy Airport in the 24 hours to 9:00am on January 19.
southburnett.com.au understands hospital staff were warned not to speak to the media about the incident.
The Member for Nanango followed her January 27 letter with a second query two days later after concerns were raised in the community about the demolition of the so-called “boomerang building”, the brick building in front of the old hospital which earlier official statements had suggested would remain and be refurbished.
Mrs Frecklington said the Minister for Health’s response to her inquiries about the flooding still left many questions unanswered.
“The Minister for Health claims the flooding was caused by a ‘severe’ rain event. I think most people would question this statement, as it seems extraordinary that a rain event of just 37mm could result in such major damage to a brand new hospital,” Mrs Frecklington said.
“I had also asked how many beds were closed after the event and how many patients had to be moved.
“Both these questions remain unanswered. Anecdotally, we have heard that 55 per cent of the 66 beds have been closed, severely reducing the capacity of the hospital.
“The Minister did confirm however that rectification works were due to be completed this week, some seven weeks after the flooding occurred.
“It really is bitterly disappointing and unacceptable that this has occurred.
“The full cost of the damage has also not been revealed. I am pleased however that taxpayers won’t bear the cost, which is being absorbed by the building contractor.
“Thankfully the new CT scanner was not damaged and was back in use by January 28. This did affect services for this period however, and I know patients were diverted to Toowoomba again during this time.
“I believe much remains unanswered and the Health Minister is avoiding important questions about what has happened. Let’s hope that the rectification works are done properly and this type of flooding damage doesn’t happen again.”
On February 23, Mrs Frecklington submitted a Question on Notice in State Parliament in regards to staffing at the Kingaroy, Nanango and Murgon hospitals.
Minister D’Ath has until March 26 to respond to this official question.
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Minister D’Ath’s response in regards to the reports of “flooding” in the hospital:
Thank you for your correspondence (January 27) in relation to the Kingaroy Hospital water damage sustained in a significant rain event on January 18, 2021. 1 appreciate you taking the time to raise your concerns.
I understand that water entered Kingaroy Hospital during a severe rain event that occurred on Monday, January 18, 2021, and that an independent building inspector was engaged to determine the cause of the leak. I am advised that the final report was submitted to Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service (DDHHS) which indicated that the issues related to the roofing plumbing and stormwater management. Since the severe rain event, the hospital has been cleaned and dried and DDHHS has been undertaking further detailed building inspections and rectification works to ensure safety.
The Kingaroy Hospital was not evacuated during the severe storm. At no time was patient care or safety compromised during the weather event, however some patients needed to be moved within the hospital as a precautionary measure.
I am advised that the water leak occurred on the northern side of the new hospital building and there were affected areas on both the ground level and the first-floor level. The areas affected include parts of the inpatient unit, maternity, emergency department, medical imaging, kitchen, and some storerooms and utility areas. Water damage was restricted to walls, to within wall cavities and to some floor coverings in these areas. A number of patient rooms were out of service for a short period while drying of the affected areas was undertaken and while early building rectification works were underway.
I understand that rectification works will be completed by the second week of March 2021. In the first tranche of these works, all maternity beds will be reopened by February 20, 2021. The health service has assessed all equipment and I am pleased to advise that no equipment was damaged. The CT scanner was not damaged; however, it was taken offline as a precaution while the room and surrounds were dried out and while building infrastructure was assessed in detail. The CT scanner recommenced service on January 28, 2021.
Lastly, I can advise that the building contractor is absorbing all rectification works costs. DDHHS will fund cleaning, testing and inspection costs through a normal insurance claim and reimbursement processes. The Kingaroy Hospital redevelopment project budget is not affected by this event.
Thank you again for bringing this matter to my attention.
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Minister D’Ath’s response in regards to community fears the “boomerang building” had been demolished in error, leading to a blowout in construction costs:
Thank you for your letter (January 29) in relation to the Kingaroy Hospital Boomerang Building refurbishment. I appreciate you taking the time to raise your concerns.
I am advised the Boomerang Building has been taken back to its lower levels for a total refurbishment as part of Stage 2 of the Kingaroy Hospital redevelopment. The existing building footprint and floor structure remain with the refurbishment providing a new structure above floor level. The renewed Boomerang Building will provide clinicians and consumers with a modern and fit-for-purpose clinical space. Further, I can advise there was no asbestos in the old Boomerang Building.
There has not been a change to the forecast cost of the Kingaroy Hospital redevelopment project.
Stage 2, which includes the Boomerang Building, remains on budget and on time. The demolition of the walls and roofing, as the initial phase of refurbishment, is not a scope change. All refurbishment costs were included at the time of cost-planning and tendering for construction.
Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service apologises if there has been a misunderstanding regarding the level of refurbishment to be undertaken. The refurbishment of the Boomerang Building will provide the Kingaroy community with a modern and clinically compliant building.
Thank you again for bringing this matter to my attention.
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