Gympie Hospital had nearly 1000 more people use its facilities last year, but new Queensland Health data shows drops in some major conditions.
Gympie Hospital had nearly 1000 more people use its facilities last year, but new Queensland Health data shows drops in some major conditions.

What sent people to Gympie Hospital 15,000 times this year

Almost 1000 more people took a trip to the Gympie Hospital in the last year, despite dips in cases of asthma, lung disease, diabetes and stroke.

On a broader scale the Gympie region was included among a health district that lowered rates of smoking and obesity and improved its physical activity in 2019-20.

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New data obtained by Queensland Health has revealed 14,965 people were hospitalised at Gympie in the last year, up from 14,061 reported the year before.

Influenza and pneumonia-related hospital visits jumped slightly from 286 to 293 and the rate of diabetes remained almost the same, dropping from 90 to 89, but other major conditions saw considerable drops.

Gympie Hospital.
Gympie Hospital.

Hospitalisations relating to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) dropped from 183 to 170, or 7.1 per cent, while cases of stroke fell 12.12 per cent from 165 to 145.

Asthma-related trips to hospital saw a steep 37.25 per cent drop from 51 to 32.

The data provided by Queensland Health did not directly explain what caused the increased demand on Gympie Hospital this year, but the hospital's Director of Nursing and Facility Manager Deanne Mitchell said that burden had been mitigated by more services close to home.

"Over the past 12 months or so Gympie Hospital increased the number of services provided to the community including outpatient clinics and Endoscopy procedures and this means locals are receiving more healthcare closer to home," Ms Mitchell said.

"This is great news for the Gympie community. Gympie Hospital is well-staffed with more than 500 highly skilled employees who do a wonderful job every day to care for our patients."

Ms Mitchell said the closure of the Gympie Private Hospital in early 2019 had "very little impact" on the public hospital's resources.

Director of Nursing and Facility Manager Deanne Mitchell (right).
Director of Nursing and Facility Manager Deanne Mitchell (right).

The Health of Queenslanders 2020 report published further data relating to the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service, which incorporates stats from the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, Nambour General Hospital, Caloundra Health Service and Gympie Hospital among other places.

There was good news relating to smoking trends with the Sunshine Coast having the lowest daily smoking rate of all HHS groups, but the report stated that data should be interpreted with caution because "detecting regional change is more difficult".

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The Sunshine Coast HHS saw a huge drop in self-reported adult obesity, with a 19 per cent decrease falling just short of the Gold Coast (20 per cent) in top spot.

Another positive came from the "sufficient physical activity" data, where the Gold and Sunshine Coasts were the only two HSS areas with higher rates than the Queensland average.

The local HHS was also one of three shown to be more active between 2009 and 2020, but the takeaways from the report weren't all positive.

The Sunshine Coast HHS had the second highest number of residents with one or more chronic health conditions in 2017-18 with more than 50 per cent, higher than the Queensland rate of 47 per cent.

The Coast also had the second highest rate of people with self-reported mental and behavioural problems per HHS, behind the South West with more than 25 per cent.

"Lifetime risky alcohol consumption" was higher than the state average in 2019-20 for six HHS groups, including the Coast.

That rate also increased locally between 2010 and 2020, while other health services remained similar to the Queensland average.

Ms Mitchell said Gympie Hospital formed "an important part" of the Sunshine Coast health network.

"The health service covers 10,000 km2 and includes hospitals at Gympie, Nambour, Birtinya and Caloundra. All hospitals within the health service work together to support the healthcare needs of the community within the region," she said.