2016 has been a golden year for St Andrew’s Toowoomba Hospital, celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The hospital’s chief executive officer, Ray Fairweather, says a “remarkable milestone” has been achieved in the history of St Andrew’s, which has a mission statement of `Excellence in Care and Service’.

Mr Fairweather notes that community support has played an important part in the hospital reaching the point where it employs a staff of around 500 with more than 350 credentialed visiting medical officers and allied health professional providing services to 24,500 patients annually. This has come about from a progression that began in 1961 when Reverend J McConaghy established a Survey Committee to determine the support for a Presbyterian private hospital in Toowoomba.

Following a favourable response, a Planning Committee was formed and in 1963, Mr and Mrs  J Bain of Jandowae donated five acres of land for the building of the hospital.

A year later, the Bains donated $184,000 as a memorial to their son James Douglas, enabling a contract for building construction to be signed and the laying of a foundation stone by Rev McConaghy in 1965.

St Andrew’s was opened as a not-for-profit acute care private hospital on 9 July 1966 with 42 beds and two operating theatres. The hospital’s bed capacity increased to 62 beds in 1980 and three years on approval was given for another 10 beds. With profits being invested back into the hospital, extensions in the 1980s included two further operating theatres and a 30-bed north wing.

As the 1990s unfolded a new kitchen, conference facilities, coffee shop, sleep studies unit and a state-of-the-art laundry were commissioned. This led to the licensed bed capacity being increased to 111 in 1997 and 129 the following year.

In 2000, a diagnostic breast clinic was established. The high dependency unit was upgraded to an eight-bed facility and a mental health unit was opened along with a cardiac rehabilitation unit, conference clinic and the John Steadman Chemotherapy Unit.

A generous grant from the late John and Beryl Macvean enabled a cardiac catheterisation laboratory to be built in 2002 as well as the first private renal dialysis facility on the Darling Downs.

The hospital’s bed number was lifted to its present capacity of 137 in 2002 and four years later the cancer care centre treated the first radiotherapy patients. In 2008, the St Andrew’s medical centre and retail pharmacy were opened.

Over the years since, St Andrew’s has extended its facilities to include seven operating theatres, two-day procedure rooms, a cardiac catheter/vascular laboratory, eight-bed intensive care unit, six-bed cardiac medical unit, a 25-chair medical oncology unit, 12 renal dialysis unit and three-bed sleep studies unit. It also has the latest in radiotherapy technology with three linear accelerators and just recently the hospital’s generator system was tripled to support the complex medical and surgical services now offered at St Andrew’s.

Words by Graeme Kelly | Images suppled by St Andrew’s Toowoomba Hospital