Mackay Hospital and Health Services chief executive Jo Whitehead. Picture: Tony Martin
Mackay Hospital and Health Services chief executive Jo Whitehead. Picture: Tony Martin

Health service expansions to cut patient travel

THE new year will mark the dawning of a new era in Mackay health care with the expansion of interventional cardiac services.

In one of several 2020 changes at Mackay Hospital and Health Service, Mackay Base Hospital’s cath lab will soon operate around the clock.

MHHS chief executive Jo Whitehead said the change would enable fewer patients to be transferred from Mackay to Townsville for heart health concerns.

She said to accommodate for the additional hours, extra staff would be recruited and more beds added to the hospital’s intensive care unit.

“At the moment patients are transferred to Townsville if they come to ED with some heart conditions and we’ve transferred nearly 80 people to Townsville for cardiac care,” Ms Whitehead said.

“There will always be some people who go up to Townsville for even more specialised care than we traditionally have offered in Mackay.

“But with the availability of our cath lab in Mackay 24/7 we’re certainly expecting to see a smaller number of patients being transferred to Townsville and an increased number of patients being looked after here in Mackay.”

This February is also set to include the opening of the Mackay hospital’s first dedicated orthopaedic ward.

Ms Whitehead said, when the new Mackay hospital was built, a ward with additional bedding was planned to meet the predicted growth of future demand.

The 2020 MHHS agenda will also include the continued redevelopment of the Sarina hospital, which is scheduled for completion in 2022, and a strong focus on recruitment and retention for rural health facilities.

Ms Whitehead said communities such as Clermont and Collinsville had had challenges in recruitment and retention in recent times, and the health service would aim to work more closely with those communities to ensure their long-term needs were met.

“We’re constantly looking to advertise and recruit, we will continue with those efforts while we start to look at if there are any different models of care we can develop and invest in growing our future rural generalist workforce,” she said.

“We’re very interested in looking at some of the models other hospital and health services have successfully implemented.

“Every small town is different and has its own unique opportunities and challenges, but we’re keen to learn from other places that have made progress.”