An artist’s impression of the new acute mental health inpatient unit being built at the Hervey Bay Hospital.
An artist’s impression of the new acute mental health inpatient unit being built at the Hervey Bay Hospital.

Work starts on $39M acute mental health unit

CONSTRUCTION has started on the new acute mental health inpatient unit at Hervey Bay Hospital, a major part of a $39.61m Fraser Coast Mental Health Services Project.

Health and Regional Health Infrastructure Assistant Minister Julieanne Gilbert said the new 22-bed unit would benefit mental health services across the Fraser Coast.

Workers look over plans for the acute mental health inpatient unit. Picture: Isabella Magee
Workers look over plans for the acute mental health inpatient unit. Picture: Isabella Magee

"It will create much-needed mental health inpatient capacity at Hervey Bay, while it will also enable the team in Maryborough to shift its focus and provide a specialised inpatient unit for older people, which reflects the needs of the Fraser Coast's growing and ageing population," Ms Gilbert said.

"Between the two facilities, mental health inpatient beds on the Fraser Coast will increase substantially, from 14 currently at Maryborough to 32 across the region by the end of 2022."

Wide Bay Mental Health and Specialised Services program manager Cindy with Wide Bay Mental Health advanced health worker Tony McKillop. Both will be working in the new facility once it’s built. Picture: Isabella Magee
Wide Bay Mental Health and Specialised Services program manager Cindy with Wide Bay Mental Health advanced health worker Tony McKillop. Both will be working in the new facility once it’s built. Picture: Isabella Magee

Wide Bay Mental Health advanced health worker Tony McKillop, who will be working in the new acute mental health unit, has had a vital role in the project's consultation and said the facility was designed with patients in mind.

"(The unit) is changing what a clinical environment looks like - just because we're going through mental health challenges, doesn't mean we can't be treated as normal people," Mr McKillop said.

"There's dignity for consumers …

"If inpatient environments are stark and boring, it can agitate and escalate people, so, we've had input to make sure the design will incorporate things such as open spaces, lounge rooms and a gym, as well as music, quiet spaces and nature to aid the healing and recovery process."

The acute inpatient mental health unit will be built near the Hervey Bay Hospital Emergency Department. Picture: Isabella Magee
The acute inpatient mental health unit will be built near the Hervey Bay Hospital Emergency Department. Picture: Isabella Magee

The unit will also eventually provide a 24/7 crisis support space.

"A cafe in the foyer will act as a crisis support space, where consumers can come for a chat if they think they need help but they're not sure what kind of help, or where they should go," Mr McKillop said.

"It is exciting to see that we're now moving forward, and hopefully within 12 months we have a different, caring support."