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Twizel medical centre plans will have community input

Plans for new Twizel medical centre will include community input

Plans for a new medical centre in Twizel to provide modern services and facilities for local residents and the wider Mackenzie community are in full swing with the Mackenzie Medical Trust considering fund-raising and design approaches that will include the district’s views.

The community will be given the opportunity early in the New Year to have input into design and funding of their new centre in a project that trust chairperson Ron Joll says will provide the district with a “future-proofed” medical facility appropriate for present needs, but able to be expanded in the future.

He said the design of the new centre, which was needed to replace the present inadequate medical centre building in Twizel, would take into account Mackenzie’s unique position of medical remoteness, an increasing tourism profile, proximity to major sporting and scenic arenas such as Lake Ruataniwha and Aoraki Mt Cook; and an aging resident population.

It was uneconomic to repair or extend the present building because of its run-down nature, he said.

“These factors all point to the need for the trust to review its present medical services and position the district for the demands of the future,” Mr Joll said.

The trust is charged with raising funds for medical projects in the Mackenzie District. Services are provided through its 100 per cent-owned trading enterprise, High Country Health Ltd, which operates the medical centre in Twizel.

With trustees drawn from Fairlie (1), Tekapo (1) and Twizel (2), the trust plays a crucial role in securing funding for the health centres and raised $150,000 for the extension of the Fairlie Medical Centre earlier this year.

The Mackenzie District Council has one councillor representative on the trust, but is not directly responsible for its operations. This ensures a close relationship between council and the trust.

New mayor of the Mackenzie District Claire Barlow said the council valued its work and saw as important its links with the trust in its role of securing funding for the benefit of the people in the community.

“One of the most important considerations a council can have for its community is the provision of excellent health care and we see the trust’s work in this area as excellent,” Ms Barlow said.

High Country Health Ltd is charged with the day-to-day running of the Twizel centre including staffing and operational matters. Staff report, through their manager, to High Country Health Ltd’s board, which has recently been restructured by the trust to meet changing community representational needs and to position the trust for its major new medical centre project in Twizel.

Mr Joll, who has served on the Fairlie Community Board for the last three years, is the current Fairlie Lions president, and treasurer and founding member of the Fairlie District Promotions Association, said the Twizel community could look forward to a new medical centre “perhaps within 24 months”.

“The new building will house the medical centre that will provide a broad range of general and specialist health services in a primary care setting across the Twizel and Mackenzie District,” he said.

The trust had written to the new council seeking land on which the new centre could be built in Twizel and it is believed that three possible sites could be suitable, Mr Joll said.

“While the council has not yet made a decision, it has endorsed our general initiative.”

He said the next step, after council sanction, would be to involve the community and set up two groups – one with a design brief, and the other with a fund-raising focus.

“We expect to start that process early in the New Year.”

He hoped the community would come forward enthusiastically and positively and be committed to a realistically-achievable common goal.

“My role will be to ensure the funding and costs match.

“The new Twizel medical centre would be focussed on innovation and quality outcomes for its patients. That starts with a committed community with an honest will to build the best centre we can,” Mr Joll said.


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