28 October, 2020
New hospital to future-proof Blackall's health
MODERNISED medical service will soon begin in Blackall through the town’s new $20.11 million hospital next month.
The new Blackall Hospital is a part of more than $60 million worth of health infrastructure works in the Central West over the past three years.
These include more than $16 million upgrades to the Longreach Hospital since 2018, $3.95 million towards the completion of the Aramac Primary Health Care Centre in April 2018, more than $7 million upgrades at Barcaldine’s Multipurpose Health Service, and $4.2 million towards replacing the Windorah Primary Health Centre.
Deputy Premier and Health and Ambulance Services Minister, Steven Miles, commended the work undertaken by Central West Hospital and Health Service (CWHHS) and contractor St Hilliers.
“The combined hospital and general practice was expected to be fully-operational by early 2021,” Mr Miles said. “But CWHHS and St Hilliers have worked hard and effectively together to make the hospital a reality for the Blackall and Tambo communities at least three months earlier than expected.
“Considering construction of this new health facility only got under way in December 2019, it’s been a phenomenal achievement to complete it and bring it online just a year later despite some very heavy rains in the region during the construction.
“I am sure the Blackall and Tambo communities will be very pleased with the early delivery of their new hospital.”
Located adjacent to the existing hospital on Shamrock Street, Mr Miles said the new 10-bed facility would include two emergency department bays and short-stay beds.
“It will include more flexible arrangements for overnight accommodation for carers and families of paediatric, palliative care, mental health and other inpatients requiring additional support,” he said.
“In addition, the primary healthcare component of the building will have eight consultation rooms that will support a range of clinical and GP services.
“Overall, the new hospital will provide capacity to meet expected increases in current and future healthcare demand due to a growing and ageing population and high levels of chronic disease within the catchment population.
“What we are doing with this major project is future-proofing health services for the local community.”
Mr Miles said the project supported 58 full-time jobs during its construction and believed it would be a fitting replacement to Blackall’s current 82-year-old hospital.
“The works provided opportunities for local business to participate in the construction,” he said. “Several local businesses have supplied civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as trade services to support construction activities.
“There have also been positive economic flow-on effects with local businesses participating indirectly in the provision of support services for the construction workforce.
“Everyone living in and around Blackall and Tambo would agree the current hospital has served the community well since it was built in 1938, but it is now in poor condition and due for replacement.”
Jaimee-Lee Prow, of Blackall, said it would be sad to see the current hospital fade away, but was pleased to see the local economy flourish as a result of the project.
“Everyone is excited about going to the new hospital as it’s been in the pipeline for over a decade,” Ms Prow said. “While everyone loves the old hospital, it is out-dated and unsafe for health care.
“Because they’ve integrated community and acute health services, you would hope there is better flow of health care when needed. You only take your child when they are really sick which is daunting for kids, but seeing the same familiar faces helps reduce their angst.
“It’s really great that CWHHS has tried to work with the community, plus the design of the hospital and artwork featured inside really connects to our cultural image of who we are.
“This project has carried on throughout Covid-19 and has kept our economy strong. Tradies have been supporting local cafes and hotels which has kept Blackall buzzing over the past eight months.”
CWHHS CEO Jane Hancock said a feasibility study was progressing to determine the future of the existing hospital complex.
“A consortium, including Queensland Royal Flying Doctor Service, Blackall-Tambo Regional Council, Central Queensland University and CWHHS, secured $750,000 of Commonwealth funding last year to undertake this study,” Ms Hancock said.
“Wide-ranging community consultations on various proposals for the use of the old hospital have been completed and several potential options identified.
“These are now being presented to various stakeholder groups and further discussion is under way about selecting a preferred option with which to move ahead.”