The new medical complex would stretch from the corner of Markwell Street down Glendon Street in Kingaroy
(Artwork supplied)

December 14, 2023

A development application has been lodged with the South Burnett Regional Council for the construction of a $130 million, six-storey medical precinct to be built on the site of the Lady Bjelke-Petersen Community Hospital in Kingaroy.

The huge health hub would be built in stages but would eventually stretch from Markwell Street down Glendon Street to beside the current SES facility.

It would incorporate a new community hospital to be managed by the existing hospital operators, South Bank Medical Group, as well as more than 300 units for aged care, disability accommodation and palliative care.

The proposal includes three operating theatres as well as a dedicated oncology/dialysis unit.

South Burnett Radiology would also move into the complex with plans to have the region’s first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner installed.

The health hub would also be supported with a telehealth system that would take advantage of the South Burnett Regional Council’s provision for fibre technology during the Kingaroy Transformation Project and reduce the need for patients to travel away from the South Burnett to access specialist medical services.

The application for Material Change of Use for the area has been submitted on behalf of the Ethos Medical Group.

It covers six land parcels, totalling 9477 sq m.

Stage 2 of the development would incorporate short-term staff accommodation and a childcare centre, with a multi-level car park planned for Stage 3.

The completed facility would include large rooftop garden spaces, more than 300sq m of internal garden and walking areas and parking spaces for about 200 vehicles.

The rooftop and garden areas would act as a water capture system to feed onsite storage to supplement water supplies during any potential emergency, while solar energy would be used to power the shared community spaces.

Ethos is excited the project has now entered its public consultation phase, and says if the project is approved in January, construction could begin later in 2024.

Modelling prepared by the AEC Group predicts the development would provide an initial construction-driven stimulus for the regional economy of $156.4 million.

The same modelling predicts that once operations matured, the project would provide additional annual stimulus to the regional economy of $67.6 million and increase employment by more than 420 full-time positions.

South Bank Medical Group CEO Professor Mark Radford told the project grew out of the need to rebuild the Lady Bjelke-Petersen Community Hospital.

In 2021, the group began exploring ways the old hospital could be demolished and rebuilt.

Prof Radford said this new project, led by Ethos Medical Group, was a way to keep the hospital running and expand its services by also bringing in other services such as aged care and rehabilitation facilities.

“It then makes it a financially viable option as well as delivering much-needed services to the region,” Prof Radford said.

He said the vision was to create a comprehensive – and sustainable – health and medical precinct which could become a model for regional Australia.

Former South Burnett mayor Wayne Kratzmann – chair of the South Burnett Community Hospital Foundation set up to support the community hospital –  welcomed the announcement.

“This is a transformative project aimed at addressing critical infrastructure limitations for the local and broader regional community,” Mr Kratzmann said.

“This project will act as catalyst to attract and supply better healthcare across the catchment and surrounding areas.

“With a wider variety and depth of services and improved infrastructure, the development will be able to support growing demand in the area, improve liveability for residents and help make rural medical services more sustainable.”

The investment would also provide training opportunities with Diploma of Nursing, Aged Care and First Aid courses to be offered.

The Foundation says the development has been staged to minimise disruption to existing medical services and would complement the Kingaroy Hospital.

Current operators, including Southbank Medical Group, South Burnett Radiology, Queensland Eye Institute and Ochre Health would be influencing the design and fit out.

Upon completion of Stage 1, the existing buildings would be demolished to make room for Stages 2 and 3.

Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington said the project was welcome news for the South Burnett.

“It is exciting to see the hard work that has been going on behind the scenes for some time finally come to fruition,” Mrs Frecklington said.

“I would like to congratulate the South Burnett Community Hospital Foundation on this significant achievement for the region.

“I have been pleased to support their unwavering commitment and dedication to bringing world-class health services to our community.

“There is no doubt this amazing new facility will entirely change the health services landscape in the South Burnett.”

Mr Kratzmann said the Foundation was very pleased to support the project.

He also noted the support provided by the South Burnett Regional Council, Mrs Frecklington, Regional Development Australia, the Department of State Development and Senator Murray Watt “all of whom provided valuable input and support in getting the project to this stage of development”.

South Burnett Community Hospital Foundation chair Wayne Kratzmann and South Bank Medical Group CEO Prof Mark Radford
The view of the completed project looking up Glendon Street, with the SES building at the left (Artwork supplied)
The completed complex would incorporate a large roof top area as well as gardens (Artwork supplied)
An artist’s impression of the rooftop of the medical complex (Artwork supplied)
The completed building would also include a multi-level carpark (Artwork supplied)
FLASHBACK: Federal Member for Maranoa David Littleproud, Lady (Florence) Bjelke-Petersen, South Bank Medical Group CEO Prof Mark Radford and South Burnett Community Hospital Foundation chairman and former South Burnett Mayor Wayne Kratzmann at the official opening of the Lady Bjelke-Petersen Community Hospital in 2016 … the management arrangement with South Bank enabled the doors of the private hospital to reopen after years of uncertainty but the need for critical upgrades to the facility soon became apparent

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9 Responses to "Plans Unveiled For $130m Health Hub"

  1. This sounds really good… BUT the question is, Kingaroy is unable to attract GPs, so will this place get staffed?

    And just WHO is it for? Here the majority of people are low-income earners and pensioners, and as far as I know. the current hospital is private. Is that who it will cater to? Private patients? Those with insurance?

    Will there be any options available for those on pensions or low incomes? Will specialists see “ordinary” people, or just those with money?

    Will we still have to travel gruelling miles to Toowoomba and pay for overnight accommodation?

    It would be lovely if this facility also provided a service for all.

    The current facility doesn’t even get a visiting lung and respiratory specialist (a very important field) and one has to travel to Toowoomba to see one.

    Kingaroy’s population is ageing, and as costs rise in the city, more low-income earners and pensioners move this way, and these are the people LEAST able to travel long distances.

    It would be great if we could get GPs for chronic complex disorders, and the more commonly needed specialists locally.

    The public hospital getting a chemo unit has been a huge boon.

    One can only hope this new project will help, as national figures are saying country people have a 2.8 greater chance of dying because of a lack of health care.

  2. What is going to happen to the current radiology service and if you are a patient of Ochre Health while this facility is being built? Where do you go for those services?

  3. Gosh! I didn’t think of that! I’m a patient of Ochre. Maybe they are relocating, or being absorbed into the new building As to radiolog , which is free, they better not replace it with a high-paying private service!

    • The information from the developers, as we reported, suggests both Ochre and Kingaroy Radiology will be part of the new complex. The important thing is that the project is going to be developed in stages “to minimise disruption” to existing services. South Burnett Radiology in Glendon Street is already a private practice.

  4. This is great news, possibly the best thing to happen to Kingaroy, if not ever, then since the mine and power station began.

    Hopefully, more private enterprise activities get going in our area. Maybe then we can cease all the “we-want-free-stuff and the government-should-do-more” outcries.

    Hopefully, council supports this one. The rates generated will be of significant long-term benefit.

    If you build it, people will come.

    Get behind the local council and encourage them to agree to develop the tracts of land they have. Pound Street comes to mind.

    Maybe over the next 20-30 years we can get our area growing and move away form being one of the lowest socio-economic regions in Australia and take pride in achievements.

    Congratulations to all involved, from a Mayor with vision to those who are putting the funds up to make it happen.

  5. What a journey the old St Aubyn’s Hospital has endured over the years.

    It was closed a couple of times and then reopened.

    Previous mayors, in particular Wayne Kratzmann are due credit. Kratzie kept the fight going to ensure the premises were restored and remained open. He succeeded with much support and effort by the community and a number of people.

    The relationship with South Bank Medical Group CEO Prof Mark Radford proved to capture the vision of what could be done to preserve and restore new medical services for the region.

    There’s an enormous legacy and history of events together with the tenacity of individuals associated with the preservation of this important medical landmark.

    The announcement and concept plans to rebuild and rebirth this iconic building is wonderful and exciting news.

    It will bring Kingaroy and the South Burnett into the 21st Century of medical services. I wish this precinct much success together with the training opportunities and other aspects of this development that will unfold in due time.

  6. I should have been clearer as to the Radiology service. What I meant was “I hope it still bulk bills those on low incomes, unlike many Drs who have stopped doing that, so poorer people can have important tests”.

    It’s been well reported that many (even what one would think of as better off families) have been skipping doctor’s visits, meds and tests due to the cost. When you have to make a choice between house and food and doctors, something has to go.

    A country can be judged on how it treats its poorer people. Once they lose compassion, the results are catastrophic.

    So can a town I guess. It seems some people would like those on low incomes, such as pensioners, unemployed or disabled to just “go away” … to where? A designated “low socio-economic area” such as a slum?

    I would rather be compassionate than proud any day, and I will continue to be a voice for the less fortunate who have as much right to live here as anyone else.

    A health centre is a great idea, as long as it/s there for ALL.

  7. The way this proposal has been shaped is a credit to Council CEO, Mark Pitt. Thank you!

    The other and quite noticeable reflection in reading this story is that this decision to go forward by Council seems united.

    Thank you to the leadership of all involved for boldly positioning the South Burnett this way, and especially to those who could see this potential several years back!

    A great show of faith in the strengths of the South Burnett for an industry to make such an investment and usher in training, care and compassion in one place for many years to come. The flow-on will be confidence by other industries to invest and contribute to the challenges faced.

  8. This sounds fantastic for the South Burnett but unfortunately it looks like it will continue to be privately run – so will not be a boost for the majority of the people who live in its service area, including me.

    I was never able to afford private health insurance & now that I’m entering old age & already starting to see doctors re health issues, I’m discovering how much Medicare has been pared back & how much I’m having to pay myself.

    As I had a well-paid job, so also paid a lot of tax, I should be seeing that returned by a true government-funded healthcare scheme – as Medicare was originally designed to be.

    Alas, a particular side of the political divide decimated it & my savings are decreasing faster than I anticipated.

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