THEY say a change is as good as a holiday - and for 17 years the emergency department at Gladstone has had neither.
But now a $42m upgrade to the department, which sees almost 30,000 people a year, means a state-of-the-art facility is no longer a dream.
Today the plans for the department's first upgrade since 1999 will be discussed at a community information session.
The upgrade, expected to start in May, will see the department double in size, have a designated paediatric area, more resuscitation spaces, new radiology equipment and easier access to the public and private hospitals.
Gladstone Hospital executive director Brendan Docherty, who has worked on the upgrade plan, said he and the hospital board shared a vision for not just a new emergency department but a whole new Gladstone Hospital.
He said the fact a comprehensive plan existed meant the process to upgrade the hospital when funding was available would be expedited..
Their priorities are the emergency department, an upgrade to the mental-health ward, with funding available for 10 beds, and then ambulatory care, which covers short-term patients such as radiology and chemotherapy.
Brendan Docherty explains how it will make a difference:
"The emergency department is usually the first step of hospital redevelopment," Mr Docherty said.
"We're looking at core located services, like theatre and high dependence and how patients can access the private hospital better.
"One option we have is to have a standalone new building for the ED and then we will have the capacity to add new floors on top of that department as we make further upgrades."
Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher said now that an ED upgrade was secured his priority was to campaign for a new, modern Gladstone Hospital.
"Gladstone Hospital needs replacing," Mr Butcher said.
Mr Butcher was elected in 2015 and during his campaign he said the hospital was the main issue residents approached him about. "The hospital is aging and we need to come up with a plan," he said.
"This is not just a blueprint for emergency. It's a blueprint for what's needed for the term to get a new hospital going forward."
The $42m funding was part of the state government's $180m Significant Regional Infrastructure Projects Program.
At today's meeting a blueprint for the ED, and how it will influence the future of the hospital, will be shared.
WATCH: State premier announces the $42m funding
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