Mareeba Hospital has started the upgrade of their operating theatre and will reopen with a new endoscopy service for residents.
During the 12-week upgrade, the Mareeba operating theatre will only be available for obstetric (maternity) emergency surgery.
Dr Nikki Patching, Mareeba Hospital Medical Superintendent said the new endoscopy service will allow the hospital to investigate patients with symptoms and diagnose for gastrointestinal tract diseases such as cancers and abnormalities of the digestive tract.
“By providing endoscopic services locally we will be able to treat more patients within clinically recommended timeframes and meet increasing future demand for endoscopic services,” said Dr Patching.
“An endoscopy/colonoscopy allows doctors to see the lining of a patient’s oesophagus, stomach, or colon. If abnormal areas are seen, biopsies (tissue samples) can be taken for testing,” Dr Patching explained.
Mareeba Acting Director of Nursing and Midwifery/Facility Manager, Ms Kerry Grigg, said that 30 per cent of referrals for endoscopies to Atherton Hospital were for patients who lived closer to Mareeba Hospital.
“This new service means we can provide safe and sustainable care closer to home for Mareeba residents,” said Ms Grigg. “We anticipate that the operating theatre will be closed for about 12 weeks until the endo of October 2019.”
“Arrangements have been made for general and dental surgery to be referred to Atherton Hospital, with the Cairns Hospital providing additional support to maternity patients when required.
“Midwifery staff have been meeting with pregnant mothers to discuss birthing options and assessing their suitability for birthing at the Mareeba Hospital during the operating theatre closure.
“The Mareeba Hospital will only be able to respond to obstetric emergencies such as emergency caesarean sections during this time,” said Ms Grigg.
Pregnant mothers are urged to discuss their options with their Mareeba Hospital midwives.
“I understand that the temporary closure of surgical services during the refurbishment period may inconvenience the Mareeba community, staff and patients,” said Ms Grigg.
“I expect that there will be construction noise and disruption during the refurbishment.
However, this upgrade is part of planning for the future and ensuring that we have services for our population.
“The new endoscopy service also aligns with the Health Service strategy to increase the self-sufficiency of Mareeba Hospital and deliver care closer to home where safe to do so”, said Kerry.
Cairns and Hinterland Health Service Chief Executive Clare Douglas said that the new endoscopy service aligns with the Health Service strategy to increase the self-sufficiency of major rural sites, such as Mareeba Hospital.