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 southburnett.com.au 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”.