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$21m expansion underway on Queensland's largest private mental health facility

Queensland’s Mental Health Commissioner, Ivan Frkovic, today joined the specialty services arm of private hospital operator, Healthe Care, to officially kick-off major expansion works at Queensland’s largest private mental health facility, Belmont Private Hospital in Brisbane.

The $21 million redevelopment will include a purpose-built women’s centre to treat more patients affected by perinatal mood disorders and a new adolescent mental health ward for patients aged from 16 years.

It will alleviate critical gaps in the region’s private mental health services and support early intervention, while aligning with key focus areas of the 2021 Federal Budget, which committed $2.3 billion in funding towards mental health and suicide prevention over the next four years.

The expansion, expected to be completed in mid-2022, will include a new six level building on Creek Road, Carina, with two storeys dedicated to hospital wards, one to consulting suites and three levels of car parking (70 additional spaces), along with the refurbishment of existing wards.

It will boost total beds to 185, an additional 35 beds, and increase floorspace to 14,000sqm, an additional 5,300sqm, making Belmont Private the second largest private mental health facility in Australia.

St Hilliers, a leading privately-owned Australian builder amassing more than $3.4 billion in projects over 34 years, has been appointed as project builder.

Designed by HSPC Health Architects, the redevelopment will expand what is currently the only private inpatient perinatal mood disorder service in Queensland – the Brisbane Centre for Postnatal Disorders – with a new state-of-the-art purpose-built facility designed for mothers and their babies.

Treating women with postnatal depression, the centre will include multiple spaces to feed, bathe and play, along with a nursery and sleep room for rest and working on important soothing skills. There will also be a communal kitchen and lounge, and landscaped courtyard with water play area for babies and children.

The new adolescent ward will feature its own dedicated lounge, dining and expansive island kitchen space for young people to come together, along with exercise and active outdoor spaces.

The addition of the ward will make Belmont Private the only hospital in the State to offer continuity of care for adolescents through to older persons’ mental health, with the redevelopment also expanding the adult ward, treating mood, trauma and dissociation disorders.

The project is part of an $80 million pipeline of new developments and redevelopments Healthe Care’s Specialty Services business is undertaking nationally, in-line with increasing demand for mental health services Australia-wide.

Healthe Care chief executive officer of speciality hospitals, Julia Strickland-Bellamy, said the expansion would allow Belmont Private to treat more inpatients and outpatients, while solidifying its reputation as ‘best in class’.

“The redevelopment will mean we can increase our services in critical areas to meet high demand for beds, particularly from mothers experiencing post-natal depression and adolescents needing support,” she said.

“Our expanded Brisbane Centre for Postnatal Disorders, which has been operating for three decades as the only private inpatient perinatal mood disorder clinic in Queensland, will increase capacity in a new dedicated and modern space purpose-designed for both women and their babies.

“The adolescents ward will be modelled from our highly-successful, evidence-based The Hills Clinic in Sydney, which has supported young people from around Australia and internationally.

“We have identified areas of most critical need in Queensland and introduced services accordingly, in line with our commitment to providing high quality and accessible care to patients across Australia.”

Queensland Mental Health Commissioner, Ivan Frkovic welcomed the private sector taking the initiative to construct new beds in South East Queensland.

"Queensland particularly needs additional specially-designed beds for infant and maternal mental health, as well as additional adolescent inpatient mental health services,” Mr Frkovic said.

"I congratulate Belmont Private Hospital for this significant investment into expanded inpatient mental health care options in the region.”

State Member for Chatsworth Steve Minnikin said the state-of-the-art redevelopment was significant for the region.

“Ensuring the community has access to high-quality mental health care is so important and facilities such as Belmont Private enhance the fantastic community services available,” he said.

“Not only will this major redevelopment inject much needed mental health beds but support significant employment both during construction and post-completion in this region.”

HSPC Health Architects architectural designer Lauren O'Donnell said developing a welcoming experience for visitors to Belmont Private was an important factor in the design.

"The new building will be the first you see when you arrive, so we have designed it to be iconic, with cues from the Queensland vernacular, including weatherboarding and sun shading to improve thermal performance," she said.

"Across the board, our vision is to create nurturing and healing environments, tailoring each space to suit the multiple cohorts using the building. We wanted to create a warm and homely experience where people can come and feel comfortable to spend time with their loved ones while they get well. One great example is the water play area in the women's centre, so when their older children visit there is a sense of fun and opportunities for interaction."

Belmont Private Hospital is run by chief executive officer and director of nursing, Mary Williams, a registered nurse with more than 40 years' experience in senior management roles. Mary is a Member of the Order of Australia, for her extensive work in postnatal and perinatal mental health.

Healthe Care is the third largest private hospital operator in Australia. After 16 years as part of the Healthe Care group, in 2021 its Specialty Services business is reorganising itself into Aurora Healthcare - Australia’s largest and leading specialist private mental health provider.