Patients ‘left in the dark’ as Mater closure nears
WITH the closure of Gladstone Mater Hospital days away, patients are living with uncertainty about where they can continue treatment.
Karen Bargenquast has a family history of bowel cancer and is worried the services she needs for regular check-ups will disappear from the region.
The small business owner said she was disappointed by the lack of information provided by Queensland Health about what would happen to private surgeons once the Mater closed on Friday.
“It would be terrible if (surgeons) left town and no one knew about it,” Ms Bargenquast said.
“I think it’s a real shame nobody is going to step up and say ‘hang on a minute’, no-one seems to know what is happening.”
The Queensland Government announced in April it would purchase the city’s only private hospital, but it remains unclear what the public-private partnership that was originally touted will look like.
Mater Health regional executive director North and Central Queensland, Gerard Wyvill, said the Mater would cease all private services tomorrow, with surgeons vacating the facility on October 2.
Mr Wyvill said the Mater had been working with each doctor, as they took carriage of their patients during this transition.
He said it was a “difficult decision” to cease hospital services for the Gladstone community and the decision was not made lightly.
“Mater appreciates the support of our Gladstone patients and families during the past 21 years,” he said.
“The past few months have been a challenging time for Mater doctors and staff in Gladstone as we’ve progressed the details of the sale with Queensland Health,” he said.
“We are grateful for their continued professionalism and the exceptional care they have provided our patients in a time of significant uncertainty.”
A Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service spokesman said CQ Health had been negotiating with private oncology and surgical specialists who offered services at the Gladstone Mater Hospital.
He said it had received in-principle agreement with some specialists “to enable a relatively seamless transition” following the hospital’s closure.
Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher said at a conference this week the oncology staff and major surgeons would stay at the Mater.
Ms Bargenquast, who runs Gladstone Camping Centre with her partner Brett Bowman, said their business would suffer if she had to travel to Rockhampton and Bundaberg for surgeries.
“You really need to go up the night before because you need to prep and then you would need stay the next night too to be able to drive yourself home,” she said.
“Or your partner has to waste a whole day out there too and we’ve got a business, it’s not viable for us.”
She said she had heard several Mater Hospital specialists would leave the region to Rockhampton or Bundaberg, however this has not been confirmed.
“It concerns everyone – you might have a kid who breaks his arm, or a grandmother that needs care,” she said.
“It’s not like these are surgeons no one wants anymore, they are decent surgeons and I believe it would be a shame they left town.”
The CQHHS spokesman said it was also working with other visiting specialists on ways to ensure it could continue to provide access to private specialists.
“While public healthcare is our top priority, we are working with private specialists wherever possible to ensure this important private service continues for Gladstone private patients,” he said.