Katie Rose Cottage.
Katie Rose Cottage.

Goodbye Katie Rose: Hospice forced to look for a new home

THE Sunshine Hospice board has begun searching for a new home after being forced to vacate its Doonan site.

Board chairman, Frank Lewins, said the property's owner had advised they planned to sell the property, which had been home to the hospice for a number of years - originally as Katie Rose Cottage.

The facility closed late last year amidst what Mr Lewins described as "the realities associated with an out-dated funding and operating model led to the decision to temporarily cease operations while a new operating model for a financially-sustainable, community-based hospice was developed".

But even before being told the property was going on the market, the board had completed a financial plan, based on consultation with other successful community-based hospices as well as financial modelling, which showed the hospice would not be viable without obtaining accreditation as a private hospital.

"This is an important benchmark which allows community-based hospices to access funding support from the Queensland Government, the Department of Veterans Affairs and from private health fund providers," Mr Lewins said.

"While the current fundraising support we receive from the community is a great credit to the passion and commitment of the people of the Sunshine Coast, it is not enough to sustain the operations of a hospice in its own right without additional, stable funding."

Dr. Frank Lewins, Chairman of Sunshine Hospice, says Katie Rose Cottage is on the market and the hospice is searching for a new home.
Dr. Frank Lewins, Chairman of Sunshine Hospice, says Katie Rose Cottage is on the market and the hospice is searching for a new home. Warren Lynam

The need to secure private hospital accreditation as an essential element of ensuring a financially viable community hospice triggered a review of the current facilities against the requirements for accreditation in recent months.

Dr Lewins said a recent assessment of the facilities at Doonan found they would not meet the Queensland Health standards for accreditation as a private hospital facility.

"Additionally, local government zoning also prevents a building to be accredited as a private hospital from being constructed on the site.

"Consequently, and based on the advice of the independent financial modelling, the Board of the Sunshine Hospice has begun its search for a site where it can construct a purpose-built hospice to serve the whole Sunshine Coast, in keeping with the values and home-like environment of a community hospice, while simultaneously meeting the standards required for private hospital accreditation."

Dr Lewins acknowledged it would be a challenging time of transition for some people.

"Change is difficult. For many of us who have been involved with the charity and the Doonan site for many years it is a time of mixed emotions.

"It is hard to leave the past behind, especially given the emotionally significant services provided at the Doonan site, but we are working to ensure a financially sustainable community-based hospice is available on the Sunshine Coast for everyone who needs it into the future, and that is a very worthwhile and positive endeavour.

We look forward to presenting additional information to the community regarding our future plans as they develop in the coming months."

All medical equipment and other vital operating equipment have been stored for future use in the planned purpose-built community Sunshine Hospice.