Private hospital to re-open

LISMORE Private Hospital will reopen on August 1, the building's owner Australian Public Trustees (APT) announced yesterday.

APT chief executive Darren Olney-Fraser said the 66-bed hospital would reopen after the previous operator, Owen Ferguson Health, went into receivership in February with $2 million in debts.

“My priority is to reopen Lismore Private Hospital as soon as possible,” he said.

“I have been working collaboratively with local people about what to do with the hospital.”

Patients were moved out of the hospital, some late at night, and about 50 nurses lost their jobs after the Owen Ferguson collapse. The building, worth about $10 million, has since remained empty.

Northern Rivers General Practice Network chief executive Chris Clark yesterday said it would relocate its family care centre to the private hospital once it was opened.

“We are also keen to run some new programs out of the hospital, but that is reliant on getting funding,” he said.

It was also believed Lismore's St Vincent's Private Hospital and North Coast Area Health had preliminary discussions with APT onusing parts of the building, but both yesterday denied this.

St Vincent's chairman Frank Hannigan said: “Like other health service providers St Vincent's has had discussions with APT, however, there has been no agreement to use or manage the facility.”

Mr Olney-Fraser said the hospital's reopening would create about 50 new jobs.

“We need to employ staff and to build trust. With the doors closed and the lights off, nothing will happen, so we are going to reopen the doors,” he said.

Mr Olney-Fraser said APT also hoped to attract other health-related businesses to use the hospital's facilities.

Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin said she has had discussions with APT and welcomed the announcement it would reopen.

“I also welcome the way in which the owner of the building is working with locals to try and make sure it can be successful,” she said.

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