Health cen­tre at ‘crunch point’


Lawrence Ru­ral Health Cen­tre is reach­ing a ‘‘crunch point’’ re­gard­ing its fu­ture op­er­a­tion, Lawrence Tuapeka Com­mu­nity Board chair­man Garry McCorkin­dale says.

The fu­ture of ru­ral health ser­vices was up for dis­cus­sion at a re­cent com­mu­nity board meet­ing, where Clutha-South­land MP Hamish Walker was in­vited to hear mem­bers’ con­cerns about the pro­vi­sion for re­gional health fund­ing.

The big Dunedin Hos­pi­tal re­build, ex­pected to cost up to $1.4 bil­lion, raised con­cerns for small­town health ser­vices at Lawrence.

It high­lighted on­go­ing is­sues in keep­ing the town’s own med­i­cal cen­tre and rest home open, McCorkin­dale said.

The Lawrence Ru­ral Health Cen­tre was es­tab­lished about 23 years ago when the town bought the de­funct hos­pi­tal build­ing from the gov­ern­ment for $1, and es­tab­lished the first in­te­grated health cen­tre in New Zealand.

It is op­er­ated by the Tuapeka Com­mu­nity Health Com­pany Lim­ited and gov­erned by a board of di­rec­tors.

The ser­vice pro­vides rest home level care for up to five res­i­dents and med­i­cal care in two short-stay beds.

Times had changed, and with just the five beds, the hos­pi­tal was no longer cost McCorkin­dale said.

‘‘A new model needs to be found ... We’re reach­ing a crunch point now.’’

Af­ter the meet­ing, he said the health com­pany board was fundrais­ing and look­ing at its fu­ture op­tions. ef­fec­tive,

The town did not ex­pect to be sub­sidised, and wanted to run a sus­tain­able op­er­a­tion, he said.

‘‘The abil­ity to keep el­derly in the town is also crit­i­cal.’’

Loss of core ser­vices in Lawrence, such as a res­i­dent doc­tor, was of con­cern be­cause it was ‘‘an­other ser­vice we lose’’, com­mu­nity board mem­ber and Clutha District coun­cil­lor Ge­off Black­more said.

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