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An artist’s impression of the new private hospital and specialist centre, planned for Grafton, adjacent to the existing public hospital. Image: Supplied.

Specialists show ‘strong interest’ in private hospital

Josh McMahon | Specialist doctors have shown a strong interest in being involved in the proposed new $10 million Grafton Private Hospital and Specialist Centre, according to the development’s proponent. Development consent has been granted, and expressions of interest (EOI) are currently being sought for medical specialists to be involved with the new centre, to be constructed adjacent to the existing public hospital. The EOI also aims to secure a commercial operator to run the facility. EOIs close in around a week. The facility is anticipated to cost more than $10 million, and investigations into raising the required capital are underway. Construction of stage one, the specialist centre, is expected to commence this year and be operational in 2019. The hospital is hoped to be operational in 2020. Grafton orthopaedic surgeon and development proponent, Dr Sam Martin, said the surgical community was enthusiastic about the new hospital and specialist centre. “It could even be that there is too much interest for what we have approval for… some of the interest could certainly involve bringing new specialist skills and services to town,” Dr Martin said. The three-story private hospital is planned to offer two operating theatres and two floors of wards. The accompanying medical centre will be purpose-built to suit the specialists who take up residency. Dr Martin said that Clarence Valley residents with private health insurance were currently being forced to either go on the public waiting list for surgery, or travel outside of the area. The new facility will enable private patients to take advantage of their insurance and be treated locally. It is also expected to ease the burden on Grafton’s public hospital. “Certainly the modelling we’ve had done shows a significant need for it. We’re only doing half the work for the Clarence Valley and the other half are leaving town for treatment,” Dr Martin said. The Clarence Valley’s aging population was also a factor contributing the need for additional surgical services, according to Dr Martin. Dr Martin’s arrival in Grafton in 2011 was hailed as a big win for the Clarence Valley community, as his specialist orthopaedic skills enabled particular operations to be carried out locally instead of patients travelling outside the area. Since then, Dr Martin recognised an opportunity to create new purpose-build facilities to attract medical specialists, and provide modern offices close to the existing hospital. The initial idea for specialist suites later expanded to include a private hospital.  
Dr Sam Martin, in front of the temporary car park next to the public hospital, that will be part of the site for the new private health facility. Image: Josh McMahon.