$9m private hospital for Lismore



DANIEL OWEN wants his new $9.5 million Lismore Private Hospital to offer 'a new paradigm in health care for older people'.

The development application for the facility has been approved by Lismore City Council and construction is expected to begin in February, with a completion date by the end of next year.

The two-storey hospital and rehabilitation centre ? on the old McKenzie Street squash courts site ? will have 66 beds and treat 30 day patients.

The North Coast Area Health Service has already flagged the possibility of leasing some rehab beds from the new private hospital if the St Vincent's rehab centre closes, due to the opening of a new Ballina Hospital rehab unit currently in planning.

Mr Owen believes older people can be supported to live independently for much longer periods and avoid placement in nursing home care if they receive firstclass medical care to treat underlying problems.

"Older people are often perceived to be the cause of 'bed block' in public hospitals, because they are too sick to be moved out," the Sydney developer said.

"But my 20 years' experience as a nurse and in health management has shown me that many conditions considered to be chronic or acute can be reversed or managed with proper care, equipment and adequate resources."

Mr Owen said 30 to 40 per cent of patients over 65 had some form of cognitive impairment which had an underlying treatable cause.

Undiagnosed health problems often lead to a 'cascade of events' that depletes a person's ability to cope and leads to a rapid downward health spiral, he said.

"But if we can diagnose and treat the cause, be it a urinary tract or chest infection or a heart problem, we can often get a lasting return to good health and vitality, and avoid or delay the unnecessary admission into a nursing home or aged hostel once we provide the appropriate level of rehabilitation," he said.

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