HEALTHY OFFER: The potential hospital site on FE Walker St in Ashfield.
HEALTHY OFFER: The potential hospital site on FE Walker St in Ashfield. Mike Knott BUN120718HOSPITAL1

Developer's incredible offer to donate land for new hospital

BUNDABERG businessman John Santalucia says the region has been good to him and his family and that's why he wants to give something back.

Earlier this year, Mr Santalucia sent a letter of offer to both Bundaberg Regional Council and the Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service in a bid to help secure a new upgraded hospital for the city.

"I've offered 10ha of land as well as half a million dollars' worth of development for an underground carpark, free of charge,” Mr Santalucia told the NewsMail earlier this week.

The Queensland Government has provided $3m for a business case to explore the development of a new or significantly refurbished Bundaberg Hospital.

While reluctant to discuss the value of the block and his act of personal generosity, Mr Santalucia said it was strategically positioned, out of the Burnett River flood zone and ready for construction.

The site in Ashfield has plenty of space for parking and future growth for a facility that would likely serve the community for up to 100 years.

It is also well positioned for the predicted major population growth area for the region.

"Given the growth of the city and the coast being so strong to the east, the new hospital should go to the east of Bundaberg,” he said.

"We've really got to look for the growth of where the people are... that's why I've come in to offer this land.”

GENEROUS OFFER: Bundaberg businessman John Santalucia.
GENEROUS OFFER: Bundaberg businessman John Santalucia. contributed SANTA03

Mr Santalucia said he was not making the offer for any personal gain and it was in no way politically motivated.

"I want to do something for the city that's good for the future and would benefit the next generation,” he explained.

"I came to this country and it has been good to me, this town has also been good to me ... I want to offer something back and see the town prosper.”

Queensland Health told Mr Santalucia his offer could not be considered at that point in time.

However, health bosses said the generous offer would be among those considered once the process reached site selection.

WBHHS chief executive Adrian Pennington said the service was working through the comprehensive and established process of developing a business case for a new or significantly refurbished hospital, which included a number of stages.

"These stages are set out by the Queensland Government for all major infrastructure projects,” he said.

The first phase of the project involves population planning to understand future growth and health care requirements.

The second phase will use the models to assess services across the Wide Bay to help WBHHS to determine infrastructure needs for the potential future development.

"Within Bundaberg, this may mean a significant refurbishment of the existing facility or the development of a new hospital, either at Level 4 or 5,” Mr Pennington said.

"It is at this point that we would engage formally with local authorities, as it is likely there would be a range of potential sites for development, each requiring different forms of infrastructure that could directly impact on town planning considerations and development costs.

FUTURE FACILITY: An artist impression of a new Bundaberg Hospital.
FUTURE FACILITY: An artist impression of a new Bundaberg Hospital.

"WBHHS has no preferred sites for a new hospital, but we expect that multiple locations will be considered and appraised in detail once we have done all the necessary work to get to this stage.”

Mr Pennington said key factors in considering sites include costs, potential risks such as floods, emergency vehicle access, logistics access, patient and visitor access, car parking and room for future growth.

"Throughout the entire process we will engage with a wide range of stakeholders, including the general public, at appropriate times, in pursuit of the best outcome for our community,” he said.

Acting Mayor Bill Trevor said Bundaberg Regional Council expected the State Government to upgrade the health service in Bundaberg to save hundreds of people from having to travel to Brisbane each month.

"It will also invigorate the local economy by bringing more highly skilled health professionals to live and work in the Bundaberg region, and extra students for training,” Cr Trevor said in response to questions from the NewsMail.

"Council supports the process the State Government has begun, to undertake a business case into the project.

"The business case should examine all potential sites, taking into account long-term planning and economic considerations.”



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