Healthcare facility could be the way of the future

The enthusiastic folk behind building a community-owned healthcare facility in Raglan hope that their proposed model could be the way of the future for other rural communities in New Zealand.

The West Coast Health Charitable Trust this week presented their vision, Project Build It, to Health Select Committee chairman Simon O’Connor and MP Barbara Kuriger, who is also the select committee’s deputy chairperson. Barbara says the visit to Raglan was to gain a broader understanding of primary health care in the town and surrounding areas.

“We saw a comprehensive proposal. While the Health Select Committee are not responsible for funding, we intend to further discuss yesterday’s visit in Wellington.”

Trust spokesperson Fiona Edwards says the presentation was made with the hope that perhaps the Government could consider the Raglan venture as a pilot scheme for rural community healthcare.

“This is beyond just a building,” she says. “It’s a way to create sustainable, affordable and long-term healthcare in rural communities, which have some of the lowest household incomes in New Zealand.”

Fiona says the benefit of having a community-owned medical centre is that the community can charge health professionals an affordable rent in return for quality service
and low-cost patient fees.

Having a bigger medical centre will also enable an accredited teaching practice where trainee and graduate health professionals can gain experience, encouraging more doctors, nurses, physiotherapist, pharmacists and other health professionals to work rurally. Surveys show that few healthcare professionals want
to work in rural areas.

The trust needs to fund raise close to $3 million for its project, and currently has pledges of $855,000.

It already has a site, almost directly across the road from West Coast Health, and plans to start earthworks in 2017 and have the building completed by 2018.

Inger Vos

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