Hos­pi­tal, univer­sity ties never health­ier

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - DOMANII CAMERON domanii. cameron@ news. com. au

JAMES Cook Univer­sity and the Townsville Hos­pi­tal and Health Ser­vice have signed a his­toric mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing to strengthen ties and work to­gether to de­liver health ser­vices to the city. THHS board chair Tony Mooney and JCU vice- chan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor San­dra Hard­ing signed the MOU yes­ter­day in a bid to bol­ster their home­grown clin­i­cal work­force. Cre­at­ing a health and knowl­edge precinct was a key pil­lar of the City Deal, which was for­malised be­tween State and Fed­eral gov­ern­ments and Townsville City Coun­cil in De­cem­ber last year. Mr Mooney said the MOU was only step one of the project. “We al­ready have a close re­la­tion­ship but now that we’ve signed this doc­u­ment two se­nior ex­ec­u­tives will now be given the job of work­ing to­gether and work­ing out how we can achieve things,” he said. “Col­lab­o­ra­tively we can im­prove the op­por­tu­nity for ed­u­ca­tion, clin­i­cians and pro­fes­sional re­search go­ing into the fu­ture.” Mr Mooney said the MOU would en­sure that the two in­sti­tu­tions were at the epi­cen­tre of med­i­cal ser­vice and de­liv­ery. “For a straight link be­tween this and that cam­pus – it’s not so straight­for­ward,” he said. “The in­ter­face is rather hap­haz­ard, we want to im­prove on some re­search pos­si­bil­i­ties and … we have some an­nounce- ments go­ing for­ward. I want to build mo­men­tum to make sure we’re on the radar of govern­ment at all lev­els.”

Pro­fes­sor Hard­ing said it was pos­si­ble for the univer­sity to do more to work to­gether.

“Both of us need fur­ther de­vel­op­ment,” she said.

Pro­fes­sor Hard­ing said there were talks of clos­ing the road be­tween the rear of the Townsville Hos­pi­tal and JCU’s med­i­cal build­ings, James Cook Drive, to join the cam­puses.

“The worst pos­si­ble thing would be if we put our backs against each other,” she said. “This makes sure that we have on a reg­u­lar ba­sis se­nior ex­ec­u­tive fo­cus to make sure we are max­imis­ing the op­por­tu­nity.”

When asked about plans for a pri­vate hos­pi­tal pro­posed for JCU last year, Pro­fes­sor Hard­ing said the univer­sity was still in dis­cus­sions.

“The idea was and ( re­mains) that the pri­vate fa­cil­ity wouldn’t be com­pet­ing with the Townsville Hos­pi­tal,” she said. “We were very mind­ful of what the hos­pi­tal’s plans were and how it could be com­pli­men­tary. We’re still on the jour­ney with that. There is a need for it in our com­mu­nity.”

WORK­ING TO­GETHER: James Cook Univer­sity’s vice- chan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor San­dra Hard­ing with Townsville Hos­pi­tal and Health Ser­vice board chair Tony Mooney.

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