December 21, 2021
Years of blood, sweat and tears to keep a private hospital open in Kingaroy are about to pay off … South Bank Medical Group, operators of the Lady Bjelke-Petersen Community Hospital, is exploring an exciting redevelopment of the site.
Executive director and CEO Professor Mark Radford said the plans included a much-needed upgrade to the community hospital as well as a 100-room aged care accommodation facility.
“This is an exciting opportunity for the region and while the redevelopment plans are yet to be finalised, we are hopeful about the way forward and what this will mean for the local community,” Prof Radford said.
“Our proposal would see the hospital upgraded with the latest facilities to ensure the current range of services can continue to be provided.
“We would also build an associated aged care facility, initially with 100 rooms, to meet the growing needs of an ageing population.”
The future of the hospital has been in limbo with significant remedial works required and South Bank Medical Group (SBMG) reliant on community grants, and State and Federal funding to subsidise operational costs.
In October, the South Burnett Regional Council unanimously voted to work with SBMG to redevelop the hospital site to assure its long-term viability and provide additional health services to the whole South Burnett community.
Prof Radford said SBMG has been working closely with the chair of the South Burnett Community Hospital Foundation, former South Burnett mayor Wayne Kratzmann, the Council and consultants AEC Group.
“Partnering with South Burnett Regional Council, we have been exploring various opportunities to advance health and social outcomes for the region and we are looking forward to progressing these development plans,” Prof Radford said.
SBRC CEO Mark Pitt acknowledged the strong partnership and Council’s commitment to maintain medical services for the community.
“Our Council has worked to ensure the community did not lose any medical services and one of our priorities is to keep existing health services here in Kingaroy. South Bank Medical Group has been a key partner and we look forward to a continued strong and positive working relationship,” Mr Pitt said.
Mr Kratzmann, a long-time advocate for the community hospital, said it was a unique opportunity to advance regional health outcomes across the South Burnett region.
“(It will) provide the ageing community the ability to stay in the region and maintain their social and community ties within their local community,” he said.
“From the outset I have always said that it was imperative that our region did not lose this facility and I am thrilled that this development will see our hopes and dreams come to fruition.”
SBMG and AEC will finalise due diligence before attracting investment and pursuing development approvals early next year.
“We will keep the local community updated on these plans, and continue to work closely with Kingaroy General Hospital, other health service providers and the general practitioner community in the region to ensure Kingaroy, the South Burnett and surrounding areas have access to the best possible medical care,” Prof Radford said.
The Lady Bjelke-Petersen Community Hospital services the local community and outlying areas of the Darling Downs.
It opened as St Aubyns Hospital in the 1920s and was upgraded in 1971.
In 2002, Kingaroy Shire Council bought the hospital land and buildings following the closure of St Aubyns.
The hospital was later leased by a private operator and reopened as the South Burnett Private Hospital.
South Bank Medical Group, a charity focused on advancing health and social welfare, has been successfully operating the hospital for the South Burnett region since 2016.
The hospital has one operating theatre and offers the following clinical services: endoscopy, general surgery, gynaecology, laparoscopic surgery, ophthalmology, urology, maxillofacial surgery, dental and orthopaedic surgery.
- Related article: Major Upgrade Proposed For Hospital