Reopening date still unknown for city’s new hospital
Eight months after Queensland Health flagged its purchase of the Mater Hospital, there is still no confirmed reopening date.
Queensland Health began renovations on the Rosella St facility after Mercy Health closed the Mater Hospital in October.
Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher this week asked for patience from residents, with a significant amount of renovations still under way.
Mr Butcher announced the purchase in April, when he claimed it would ensure the community's health services were retained and improved.
Queensland Health purchased the facility, now known as the Gladstone Hospital West Wing, for $16.9m which included the purchase price and some capital improvement works.
Queensland Health director project manager Steven Gall said "substantial" renovations were needed.
The government is spending $20 million on renovations and equipment after Mr Gall said Mercy Health "stripped (it) bare".
Read more: Mater explains its regretful Gladstone sale
"We joke about the building being left empty, but it was left empty to the extent where we don't even have regulators or basic sort of fixtures and fittings," Mr Gall said.
Mr Gall said they still had to install new aircon, specially designed flooring, IT services and purchase beds and other hospital equipment.
The hospital will treat up to 80 patients and have 40 staff, including two critical nursing staff.
Mr Butcher said most of the spending was on the oncology unit, which opened on November 16.
Mr Butcher said it was prioritised, so patients did not have to travel to Rockhampton or Bundaberg for cancer treatment.
"It doesn't really matter how much it cost, this service was desperate for those people who would have had to travel to Bundaberg or Rockhampton," he said.
Mr Gall said Queensland Health was negotiating fly-in-fly-out arrangements for specialists who would hire out consultation rooms and see private health patients.
He said they could see up to 40 patients a day for private health consultations.
Services already confirmed for the new hospital next year include cancer care, cardiology, occupational therapy and maxillofacial services.
They also hope to have sleep studies and endocrinology.
General surgeon Dr Rob Schreiber is one of the specialists already confirmed to offer private health consultations and public health services at the hospital.
"The change has affected (Dr Schreiber) obviously because he worked for the Mater and they took everything out he used to work with but we have catered for him," Mr Butcher said.
Queensland Health nursing and midwifery director Monica Seth said the day surgery unit would cater for private and public health patients.
"Ideally we're hoping for this to be a day surgery facility where people come in and go home at the end of their procedure," Ms Seth said.
"(We) don't have a separate public and private area, everybody is treated exactly the same."
While they cannot confirm a date, the government hopes to open the hospital around March or April next year.
"People have to remember no other health provider wanted to buy the facility which is why the state government decided to stand up," Mr Butcher said.
"If we hadn't purchased (The Mater), it would still be empty and once things don't open and people aren't in them, they start to degrade and fall to pieces.
"I wanted to get healthcare to a place where we can go see a private or public service in Gladstone rather than going to Rockhampton.
"Investment has come … collectively there was $70m in the last five years, now we just ask for people to have patience as this is starting to grow as Gladstone grows.
"We bought this so we can grow with the community and get the services back we had years ago."