Old Aramac and Alpha hospitals
Tuesday 29 March 2022
Old Aramac and Alpha hospitals
Please attribute the following to Central West Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Mr Christopher Sullivan.
The Central West Hospital and Health Service was very pleased to deliver a new $4.1 million primary health centre in April 2018 for the Aramac community, and a new $17.5 million Alpha Hospital and Multipurpose Health Service for the Alpha community in June 2016.
Having facilities that are safe and comply with current healthcare standards is our priority.
The new Aramac Primary Health Centre and Alpha Hospital and MPHS allow health care teams to work in a fit-for-purpose environment as they deliver safe, quality care close to home for the communities of Alpha and Aramac.
However, in welcoming these two brand new health facilities, we recognise the deep connection the Aramac and Alpha communities have to their old hospitals.
The original section of Aramac hospital was built in 1879 with the first major addition added in 1954.
Several other significant additions followed in 1960, 1965 and the last being in 1998.
The old Alpha hospital dates from 1931 – with subsequent expansions and additions in 1944, 1970, 1973 and 1992.
None of the Aramac or the Alpha old buildings are heritage listed.
Our intention was to turn the old facilities over to the Aramac and Alpha communities for their use once the new facilities were operational.
As such, multiple options for alternative uses of the old hospitals were investigated and considered.
However, as a public entity, we are legally bound to ensure the facilities are safe and fit for purpose before any potential transfer of ownership or change of use.
To this end, we commissioned extensive independent survey and engineering reports on the structural integrity and safety of both the old Aramac and the old Alpha health facilities.
The results of the various professional and independent surveys and reports were clear.
Due to age and historic maintenance activities, the old hospitals have multiple and extensive structural defects and significant levels of asbestos and other hazardous materials.
Examples of these defects include:
- The roof structure is deteriorating at an increasing rate and large sections of the roof sheeting (containing significant asbestos) have failed and the facility is not weatherproof.
- The facilities contain a significant quantity of asbestos containing materials (ACMs) and other hazardous materials (including fragile glass, lead flashings, hydraulic systems, etc).
- There are strict requirements for handling/removing hazardous materials such as ACMs under work health and safety and public health legislation prior to occupancy which would significantly increase associated remedial costs.
- Fire systems have failed in multiple areas and cannot be repaired or replaced due to the outdated fire infrastructure. Fire compartmentation and penetrations are not present, and the infrastructure remains uncertified and would require major works to achieve certification to current standards. No-interlinked fire safety devices are present which is mandatory for occupied devices.
- Main electrical and sub-electrical switchboards are outdated, non-operational and fail current safety standards due to increased and unknown electrical loads.
- Electrics require complete re-wiring to address aged and non-compliant wiring before any installation of residual current devices (RCDs) or electrical improvements could be undertaken.
- Residual current devices cannot be installed on current switchboards due to their age, with all existing electrical switchboards requiring replacement.
- Stormwater and sewage systems have failed, are structurally unsound and not secured as required by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission.
- Underground clay pipes are cracked and require repair, internal water pipes are galvanised and are required to be replaced with copper or poly prior to use.
- Underground storm water pits have collapsed, with significant incursion of tree roots and damage from reactive soil and other ground instability.
- Air handling and conditioning systems are redundant and non-operational.
These significant defects render the old buildings at both Aramac and Alpha, including any material within, unsuitable and unsafe for repurposing.
The financial costs to the health service and ongoing costs to the local community to retain and preserve the old hospital buildings are just too great and unsustainable.
To attempt to do so would breach our legal obligation to ensure our financial resources are applied effectively, efficiently and in the broad public interest.
The results of the multiple engineering and survey reports were presented to community consultation sessions at both Aramac and Alpha attended by numerous stakeholders, including community members, advisory networks, and the Barcaldine Shire Council.
All options, including local government acquisition, repurposing, and moving were analysed and discussed during the community consultation sessions.
In the light of the various submitted independent professional reports, stakeholders attending the consultation sessions at both Aramac and Alpha supported the scheduling of the safe demolition of the old buildings and removal of associated hazardous materials.
In the case of Aramac, this will involve the removal of 4838 cubic metres of mostly hazardous material, with a further 4351 cubic metres of similar material to be removed from Alpha.
Q-Build has been awarded the contract to manage the demolition of the old health facility buildings at both Alpha and Aramac.
Work on site at both facilities is expected to start by mid-April and is expected to be completed by the end of June – weather permitting.
While we prepare for the safe removal of the old facilities at both Aramac and Alpha, the buildings are being managed and maintained in line with Queensland Government safety and security regulations.
Although most of the old Alpha Hospital buildings were structurally beyond economical repair, we saved the former doctor’s house, which is now the Director of Nursing accommodation.
We were also able to donate and relocate the original outdoor skillion to the Alpha Community Jockey Club.
At Aramac, and at the request of the community, a memorial pavilion was erected at the new Aramac PHC to commemorate former Matron Winifred Stamp.
Matron Stamp was matron at the hospital from 1949 to 1965 and again from 1968 to 1980 and was highly respected by many generations of Aramac residents.
The health service also moved features of the old Aramac complex, including the stork sculpture and pavers, to the new site.
In recognition of the deep sense of connection and history the old Aramac hospital brings to the community, consultation with community members is ongoing to further memorialise the facility through the design of either an onsite or offsite plaque, a model replica, or other commemorative symbol.
For further information contact:
James Guthrie Principal Media Officer, Rural and Remote Qld Media and Communication Department of Health (07) 3708 5379