CEO Alan Cooper from the Friendly Society Private Hospital in Bundaberg.
CEO Alan Cooper from the Friendly Society Private Hospital in Bundaberg. Mike Knott BUNFRIENDLIES

$8 million medical suites to help retain specialists

THE new $8 million Friendlies Medical Suites which will provide a boost to health services in the Bundaberg region, has been completed.

The suites will attract and help retain specialist doctors in the region, with up to 30 medical suites and 89 ground-level car parking spaces.

With just six weeks until the suites' expected completion, builder Carmichaels went into voluntary administration on June 10.

Friendly Society Private Hospital CEO Alan Cooper took the unprecedented step of removing the build from the hands of administrators, and meeting with each subcontractor, which had the project back on track in just six weeks.

Mr Cooper said a lot of work went into getting the project moving again and retaining the subcontractors and tradies to complete the build, but it was the right action to take for all parties involved.

"The people working on this building were local subcontractors and tradies. As a major local business, I felt we had to do this to make sure they were getting paid for the work they had done, lessening the impact of the problem on their businesses," Mr Cooper said.

"We were able to enter into individual deeds of agreement about the work that had already been completed and gain a commitment to the work that was still to be done."

The Friendly Society Private Hospital took over the building contract, engaging Jeff Lennox, another local business, as the builder.

Mr Cooper said the Friendlies had held back two months of payments to Carmichaels, in excess of $600,000, after concerns were raised that subcontractors were not being paid by the builder.

"Because we took this step, we were then able to make payments to contractors who otherwise would not have been paid," he said.

Mr Cooper said despite the delay, the Friendly Society Private Hospital now had an attractive investment to sell to current and potential medical specialists.

"We are committed at the Friendly Society Private Hospital to provide a leading, regional facility with state-of-the-art services and to do that we need to have the support of leading specialists," Mr Cooper said.

"We have had interest from a range of different medical professionals which will only further enhance the health care options available to people locally."

The Friendly Society Private Hospital is now selling the suites, with 50% sold or retained for use by the hospital, and will hand over the building to a body corporate.



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