Buller's Integrated Family Health Centre to be completed four years later than planned

By Aimee van der Weyden -
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Buller's Integrated Family Health Centre (IFHC) is set to be completed in the first half of 2019. Photo / 123RF
Buller's Integrated Family Health Centre (IFHC) is set to be completed in the first half of 2019. Photo / 123RF

Buller's Integrated Family Health Centre (IFHC) is set to be completed in the first half of 2019 - more than four years later than originally planned.

"Good progress" was being made towards getting the building of the IFHC underway, West Coast Hospital Redevelopment Partnership Group chairwoman Cathy Cooney said on Friday.

"After discussions with the West Coast District Health Board (DHB), we have decided to progress with a timeline that will see the centre completed in the first half of 2019."

However, the group was not yet in a position to announce its funding partner. It was currently finalising sale, purchase and lease agreements with a "viable partner", after the other interested party withdrew its interest.

"We hope to be in a position to announce the details of this agreement early next year."
Four-and-a-half years ago, the West Coast DHB went through a process of finding investors for the IFHC. It got as far as lining up 10 possibilities.

At that stage, the centre was supposed to open in late 2014.

Since then, the budget has fallen from $26 million to $8.1m, and bed numbers plunged from 92 to 10. The slashed budget was in part due to the DHB's decision to not to provide aged care.

Ms Cooney said a site for the new facility would be confirmed following geotechnical reports.

The three sites (all owned by the DHB) being investigated are:
• The current Buller Hospital site;
• 22 Pakington Street - which currently houses the hospital's boiler house;
• The former Kynnersley rest home site at 30 Henley Street.

Ms Cooney said she hoped the work would not be delayed by geotechnical resource constraints following the Kaikoura earthquake. The timeline of the build would be revised if that was the case.

"We are also working closely with the Buller District Council on resource consent and planning implications for the sites and thank them for their help in ensuring a good outcome for the community."

The two-and-a-half-year timeframe ensured the West Coast DHB could focus on the building of and relocation to the new Grey Base Hospital, expected to be completed in 2018, she said.

It also took into account the opening of the Canterbury DHB's new Acute Services Building and Outpatients facility, also due to open in 2018.

Westport Dental Clinic a likely tenant Westport's IFHC will be 1632 square metres in size and contain two emergency beds, one maternity bed, six medical beds, and one palliative care bed.

Ms Cooney confirmed adult dental services would also be integrated into the centre.
Buller Mayor Garry Howard said the Buller Health Trust, which owns the Westport Dental Clinic, had received a proposal from the redevelopment group about moving into the IFHC.

"We have had a proposal from the Ministry of Health, and we're very keen to pursue that."
However, there was plenty of detail still to be finalised.

Moving into the IFHC certainly made sense, but it was too soon to discuss the proposal in any detail, he said.

"Realistically, this is two to three years before the completion [of the IFHC]."

What services the Westport Dental Clinic would offer at the new premises depended on the dentists on staff.

"There've been a number of discussions about what further services could be added, but it really does depend on the actual dentists that are at the practice at the time."

The Westport Dental Clinic currently employs one full-time dentist, and a locum.

The Buller Health Trust was set up years ago by the council to protect local health services. The dental clinic currently operates out of a leased building on Palmerston Street, owned by the Westport Returned Services Association (RSA).

Mr Howard said the Buller Health Trust was conscious it had a great landlord in the Westport RSA, and would work with it at the appropriate time, he said.
"They've been very good to us."

Ms Cooney said Westport's IFHC would also house a range of outpatient, community and primary care services including GPs, practice nurses, and health professional advocate Allied Health.

- Westport News

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