St Stephen’s Hospital Maryborough will close to patients on Monday October 13, when the new St Stephen’s Hospital Hervey Bay opens its doors, says UnitingCare Health Executive Director, Richard Royle.
Mr Royle said it was with genuine regret that UnitingCare Health, after exploring many options, was confirming that St Stephen’s Hospital Maryborough will finally close.
“The UnitingCare Board announced in May 2013 that our Maryborough hospital would close, but we have continued for many months without success to explore alternative proposals with public and private providers about maintaining a health or other service on this historic site,” he said
He said the reason for the closure of Maryborough was that in recent years the hospital has become increasingly financially non-viable due to many complex issues, including the move of the vast majority of medical specialists to Hervey Bay, despite the investment over many years by UnitingCare Health in the hospital.
“Following the closure of the Intensive Care Unit in the Maryborough Base Hospital, and the increasing complexity of care provided by the Accident and Emergency Service at the Hervey Bay Hospital, there has been a strong preference among Medical Specialists to reside in Hervey Bay rather than Maryborough, and this impacted on the services we could provide at St Stephen’s in Maryborough.”
“There are currently limitations on the types and complexity of medical and surgical care that can be provided in Maryborough, but will in future be provided at the new hospital in Hervey Bay.”
Mr Royle said following the closure of the Maryborough hospital, UnitingCare Health would continue to work with interested parties to explore uses for the vacated campus, including further conversations with the Friendlies Pharmacy Group.
UnitingCare Health understands that the Maryborough community is very disappointed by this decision and acknowledges the very long history of support and involvement by local residents in St Stephen’s Hospital Maryborough.
"We appreciate that the number of signatories to the recent petition represented the extent and depth of concern in the community about the closure of St Stephen’s Maryborough.
“Our commitment to our patients is paramount and St Stephen’s will ensure continuity of care to all patients who may need to transfer from Maryborough to the new Hervey Bay hospital on 13 October.”
He said St Stephen’s would provide transport options for Maryborough patients travelling to Hervey Bay, including a regular shuttle bus. Full details about the shuttle bus service would be announced shortly.
New short-term accommodation for families and others who live outside of Hervey Bay and who need to attend the hospital is also opening shortly, thanks in large part to a generous donation by the Christensen family, he said.
"Since St Stephen’s Maryborough Hospital came under the operation of the Uniting Church, it has provided acute care services to the Maryborough and Fraser Coast communities and has been a leader in patient-centred care,’’ Mr Royle said.
"The hospital staff have worked tirelessly to provide compassionate care for the people of Maryborough and surrounding regions and will continue to do so at the new St Stephen’s Hospital Hervey Bay.
“The entire Fraser Coast community, including patients and families living in Maryborough will benefit from the new St Stephen’s Hospital Hervey Bay, which will be the first fully-integrated digital hospital in a regional area.
“St Stephen’s Hervey Bay will be able to offer more beds and specialist services for patients, including the area’s first female gynaecologist, a new female GP whose special interest is women’s health, a new orthopaedic surgeon, additional anaesthetists and increased respiratory services. Because of the wider range of services, Fraser Coast residents will no longer need to travel to Brisbane for some specialist services. They will be able to be safely and expertly treated in Hervey Bay,” he said.
“UnitingCare Health would like to reassure the Fraser Coast community that we are committed to healthcare in the region and will be doing everything possible to ensure our patients continue to receive safe and timely acute hospital care.”