The Bowen community is celebrating a significant expansion of local public health services following the opening of a new medical imaging wing and a purpose-built renal dialysis unit at its local hospital.
An official opening of the $7 million expansion of Bowen Hospital was held today, with special guests including Isbell family members representing the Cyril Isbell estate which contributed $1 million towards the project.
The rest of the project funding came from a $5 million Federal Government grant and $1 million from Mackay Hospital and Health Board’s retained earnings.
Mackay Hospital and Health Service (HHS) Interim Chief Executive Paula Foley said the expansion would enable patients from Bowen and the surrounding area to access more care closer to their own home.
“The new medical imaging wing offers a comprehensive range of services including a CT scanner which ends the need for Bowen patients to travel to Proserpine or elsewhere for these important scans,” Ms Foley said.
“The expansion of the renal dialysis unit is also significant for the Bowen community as it will provide more dialysis services in their local hospital, meaning it can support more patients and meet the future needs of the community.
“On behalf of the Mackay HHS, I wish to express our gratitude to the Isbell family and to the federal and state governments for their contributions that made this expansion possible. It is a milestone for local public health services and a wonderful day for the Bowen community.”
The new medical imaging wing includes the CT scanner, general x-ray, ultrasound and orthopantomogram services for local patients as well as accessible toilets, an administration area and storage space.
The expanded renal space has room to isolate infectious or immuno-compromised patients and a reverse osmosis unit to purify and filter the water.
Director of Nursing and Facility Manager Julie Minogue said the expansion of the hospital was fantastic news for the wider Bowen and Collinsville community that her team serves each day.
“On average, previously we would have about three patients a day travel to Proserpine for CT imaging and this will end the need for that travel to take place leading to faster diagnosis and treatment commencing sooner,” she said.
“It also ends the need for costly ambulance transfers for CT imaging which requires a member of our nursing staff to accompany the patient – keeping ambulance and nursing staff in Bowen where they can support our patients.
“The funds saved from these transfers can also be reinvested into other essential health services for patients in our region.”
Often when awaiting transfer for imaging, a patient may have required to be supported overnight in a hospital bed. Ms Minogue said that having the scan accessible at Bowen will free up many of those beds for the wider patient cohort.
“It’s also exciting for our hospital to have an expansion of the renal dialysis service as it will modernise the care provided at our hospital and enable us to meet the needs of patients – especially those who may be immune compromised or at risk of infection,” she said.
Bowen Hospital has been gifted $1 million by the late Cyril Fortescue Isbell
Mr Isbell was born into a prominent grazing family at Collinsville who also had business interests in Bowen that included a butcher shop and a hotel.
After the sale of the pastoral holdings of Havilah and Heidelberg at auction in 1967 for a record $1 million, the money was shared between four brothers and Mr Isbell moved to Sydney where he lived a modest life for almost 50 years.
His will made financial provision for his two nieces as well as Bowen community groups, charities and the then Bowen District Hospital.
A Bowen Independent newspaper article marking his death and bequest said the quiet bachelor never gave anyone cause to think he was a wealthy man.
“By his generosity he has ensured that he will be long remembered in the district that his parents and brothers helped to pioneer and develop.”
Ms Minogue said she and other staff had met with members of Mr Isbell’s family and they were delighted to know his money would benefit the community in such a major way.
“We have been waiting to find the right project to honour Ms Isbell’s memory and generous bequest.”