Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher with Health Minister Steven Miles announcing plans to purchase the city's Mater Hospital
Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher with Health Minister Steven Miles announcing plans to purchase the city's Mater Hospital

COVID-19: Mater’s role in preparing Gladstone

PLANS are in place for a dedicated COVID-19 ward and intensive care unit at Gladstone's Mater Hospital.

The Queensland Government will buy the private hospital once the pandemic threat has passed, and is currently negotiating the price.

The Mater can continue offering services while having the ability to play a crucial role in Gladstone's COVID-19 response if required.

Health Minister Steven Miles was in the city today and confirmed the plan would mean an extra 34 beds as part of the dedicated ward and between four and 12 additional beds in a dedicated ICU.

"At the end of the pandemic we will complete a purchase of the hospital, add it to the stock of the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service, and we are working through a model which will allow private providers to continue to operate from that hospital," he said.

Queensland's Chief Medical Officer Janette Young was also in Gladstone and said the Mater was well suited for the job.

"I recently had the opportunity to look through the Mater Gladstone facility and thought at the time it would be absolutely superb as a COVID hospital for when it will be needed," she said.

"If I designed the facility and built it for that purpose, it couldn't have been done better."

State Member for Gladstone Glenn Butcher has been calling for the purchase of the Mater for some time and wrote to Mr Miles and Treasurer Jackie Trad last month pushing for the announcement.

"If ever I wanted to give someone a hug it's today, but unfortunately I can't," he said.

Once the purchase is finalised it is expected the hospital will be a co-shared facility with private and public services.

Mr Butcher said this was good for the Gladstone community as a whole and for the significant number of residents who have private health insurance to make use of their policies.

The announcement follows a $42 million upgrade to Gladstone Hospital's emergency department.

"Now we can be assured that our services here in Gladstone will continue to get better and better," Mr Butcher said.

It comes as authorities warn against complacency during the Easter break.

Ms Young said it was crucial that people adhered rigidly to the processes put in place to limit the number of cases.

"If those restrictions decrease then we will see a rapid increase," she said.

She is watching what is happening at the original epicentre of the outbreak in Wuhan, China.

"They're now removing those restrictions, so we'll be watching very carefully for when they get their next wave," she said.

She outlined four reasons to leave the house: to buy essential supplies, access healthcare or support vulnerable people, for essential work or education that can't be done at home, and to exercise.