October 12, 2021
The Lady Bjelke-Petersen Community Hospital in Kingaroy could become a medical hub for the region if exciting plans from operators South Bank Medical Group come to fruition.
South Bank Medical Group (SBMG) is exploring opportunities with the South Burnett Regional Council – which currently owns the building and land – to expand the facility to provide extra health services.
The project is subject to final approvals by Council but SBMG executive director Prof Mark Radford is confident these will be signed off soon, possibly before the end of this month.
“We are very excited about the possible developments for the hospital,” Prof Radford said.
SBMG has been operating the community hospital since 2016 but has struggled at times to find a way to keep it financially viable.
“We also know the building needs updating and that’s going to take a considerable amount of money,” Prof Radford said.
But he said SBMG was committed to staying in Kingaroy.
“For about 18 months now we have been exploring with the Council what are our options,” he said.
Prof Radford said Council obviously had limited resources so SBMG had started to investigate other ways to approach the issue, including looking to find other services which might be able to finance the hospital’s operating costs and upgrades.
SBMG had also approached potential investors interested in supporting social investment projects in regards to both the Lady Bjelke-Petersen Hospital in Kingaroy and its South Bank Day Hospital in Brisbane.
“They have liked our concept and how we are trying to provide community health services,” Prof Radford said.
“We would use any profits we generate from the health services to go back into research, teaching and clinical care.”
SBMG wants to increase the services the Lady Bjelke-Petersen Community Hospital provides to cater for the increasing needs of an ageing population over the next 10 years.
Demolition of the existing building is a definite possibility.
“The current hospital is quite old and we are actually concerned about some structural issues,” Prof Radford said.
If the project is approved, it could involve a three-stage development, initially using land at the back and side of the current hospital building.
This would enable services in the hospital to continue while the expansion project went ahead.
“We want to make sure that we can keep the current hospital going until a new facility is able to be up and running,” Prof Radford said.
He said SBMG was “all ready to go” and was just awaiting Council to sign off on a couple of final decisions.
“Council has been very supportive of the concept but they have to go through their processes as well,” he said.
If the project was approved, architects would be brought in straight away so SBMG could start “turning the sods” as soon as possible.
“We really believe this is going to be an asset for Kingaroy, and the region – the South Burnett and North Burnett,” he said.
The new facility would work alongside the existing public hospital and other local medical services and health providers to provide a range of services including gerontology, gynaecology, expanded surgical procedures, aged care support and improved mental health services.
“People have a right to be born, live and die in their community. In order to do that, you have got to provide education, jobs and good health services from birth to death … from womb to tomb,” Prof Radford said.
“We are trying to think beyond a simple community hospital service.”
South Burnett Regional Council CEO Mark Pitt said the Council was committed to maintaining medical services in the community.
“Our Council stepped up to ensure that the community did not lose any medical services and one of our priorities is to keep existing health services,” Mr Pitt said.
“South Bank Medical Group has been a key partner and we look forward to a continued strong and positive working relationship.”