Coast hospital wing named in doctor's honour

THE Yeppoon doctor who crusaded to have lead paint banned across the state will have an acute wing of the new Yeppoon Hospital named after him.

Dr Ray Channells was chosen from an outstanding list of nominees which included long-time nurse of more than 35 years Lola Baker and Coowonga, the Aboriginal man who nursed the man who founded the Commonwealth Bank, King O'Malley, back to health.

O'Malley allegedly landed at Port Alma in 1888 gravely ill and took up residence in a cave at Emu Park where he befriended the Aborigine who cared for him until he recovered.

Premier Anna Bligh, who was in the region yesterday, said Dr Channells had given a lot to the Yeppoon community and it was great his huge contribution could be recognised in his naming of the new $20.6 million wing.

“Dr Channells delivered health care to locals for most of his life, and this new facility will ensure locals continue to receive superior care into the future,” Ms Bligh said.

Dr Channells was born in 1927 and moved to Yeppoon in 1953 to become assistant to Yeppoon GP Dr John Degotardi, a relationship that would last 25 years.

He worked in the Yeppoon community for the majority of his career, holding the post of medical officer for the Livingstone Shire Council for a time as well as a 10-year stint on the Yeppoon Ambulance Committee.

In 2003 Dr Channells received a Medal of the Order of Australia.

Yesterday, Dr Channells said he was overwhelmed by the honour.

“I only found out a couple of hours ago when Paul Hoolihan called and delivered the news,” Dr Channells said. “It's a big surprise; I knew nothing about this.”

Member for Keppel Paul Hoolihan said one of the highlights of Dr Channells' career was his and Dr Degotardi's successful campaign to have legislation introduced banning lead in house paint.

“It's great the community has been able to select one of its own as the namesake for this new wing,” Mr Hoolihan said.

The new wing will open to patients in October.

• In 2003, Dr Channells was awarded the Order of Australia medal to honour his work in his profession and within the community; and

• He worked virtually his entire medical career in the Yeppoon community, although as Medical Officer for the Livingstone Shire Council, a role he filled for many years, he had responsibilities across the whole shire; and

• He was patron of the Yeppoon Choral Society for 30 years, an internationally recognised photographer and active Rotarian.

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