A GROUP of local residents, shire councillors, health professional and volunteers have visited Guyra to inspect the town’s multipurpose health service (MPS).
The visit was organised by the Tenterfield hospital in conjunction with members of the Local Area Health Advisory Committee (LHAC) who have been looking into the possibility of getting an MPS-style facility for Tenterfield.
The tour went ahead despite the federal and state governments not looking to fund any future multipurpose health services.
Health services manager for Tenterfield Michael Moore said he was not sure how long this would take but said he was looking at alternatives.
“We have an alternate strategy in place should an MPS not be forthcoming and that is to document the current condition of the facility and identify shorter term problems that need to be fixed in the current facility,” he said.
“With this information we will then be able to provide the chief executive with a report which will in turn be able to get the facility issues at Tenterfield prioritised and potentially considered for the general capital works program.”
LHAC president John Brown said the trip was aimed at giving community members the chance to view first-hand the kind of facilities future patients and staff in Tenterfield could benefit from.
“There is a lot of misinformation out there and this is a chance for people to see the facility first hand and to ask questions of the staff,” he said.
For Mingoola resident Heather Middleton, the trip was a chance to get as much information about how well the facility works.
“I live more than an hour’s drive out of town and I want to know that if there is an emergency that I am going to get the health care services myself, my daughter or my neighbours and friends might need in that kind of situation,” she said.
Once at Guyra, the group were welcomed with a short presentation by health services manager Felicity Wardle, who spoke about the services offered at the centre and how the project had helped bring the community of Guyra together.
Unity was the biggest piece of advice she had for the people of Tenterfield.
“Right from the start, the community have been right behind us... they are passionate about what we have here and they want to make sure it works for us,” she said.
“My advice would be to stick together... [You need] health services based on fact and not on personal opinion. Work cohesively and consistently, you just have to keep knocking on the door.”
Questions to Ms Wardle ranged from how the centre was funded and staffed, to how it coped in cases of emergency or with mental health patients.
Ms Wardle explained that in such cases, patients had injuries treated at Guyra before more serious cases were transported to Tamworth or Armidale.
The distance to Armidale or Tamworth is far greater from Tenterfield than it is from Guyra and this was a common theme among the visitors.
Some said Tenterfield needed a hospital because a four to five hour drive was too far for somebody in extreme pain or a life-threatening situation.
After the presentation, the group was taken on a tour of the facility, including through the aged care area, the community health and emergency departments.
What does Guyra have?
GUYRA’S MPS was officially opened in October 2006.
It cost $9.4million of state and federal government money to build and replaced the aging War Memorial Hospital which was opened as a temporary building in 1956.
Guyra’s MPS includes five high care beds, 17 aged care beds and an emergency department with two beds. There is also a community health service area with a number of private consultation rooms. Drug and alcohol counsellors visit, as do physiotherapist and an Aboriginal liaison officer who works 20 hours a week.
Guyra health services manager Felicity Wardle said health care had changed a lot and because people were living longer, there was now a greater emphasis on preventative health measures provided at MPS style facilities.
There is one GP who is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The next step...
LOCAL health advisory committee president John Brown said he would like to hold a public meeting to inform the community but was unsure as to when it could take place.
“Obviously the next step is to inform the wider community about today’s exercise,” Mr Brown said. “But I think it might be a bit premature to hold one straight away, we need to do our homework first and make sure we are in the ballpark.”
Tenterfield’s health services manager Michael Moore described Tenterfield’s hospital as an “ageing facility” and said a serious amount of money would be needed to upgrade it.
Mr Moore said he hoped an in-depth condition report of the facilities and machinery would give them a better idea of what was needed
“Some of the problems will not be able to be fixed short term within our current capital budgets and may need a larger redevelopment or replacement through getting statewide capital support,” he said.
“I would expect the process of documenting the current facility issues will take from three-six months, in terms of confirming a larger redevelopment…as soon as I know more I will inform the Tenterfield Community of ongoing developments. “
Cr Lawrie West from Tenterfield Shire Council was not in favour of an MPS and said he hoped to put a motion forward at the upcoming council meeting.
“I would like to put up a notice of motion to specify what kind of medical services we need for the whole of Tenterfield because we are too far away from the bigger places like Armidale and Tamworth.”
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