YESTERDAY represented a significant boost to the region’s health services, with federal Regional Australia Minister Simon Crean officially opening both the Gunnedah Rural Health Centre and the new Narrabri hospital.
The $6.5 million Gunnedah Rural Health Centre was among the first of the federal government’s GP Super Clinics, opening to patients in June.
The centre has five wings – two medical, and one pathology, treatment and training – that bring together GPs, allied health professionals and other health services in the one location.
Board chairwoman Penny Crawford said this “multi-
disciplinary approach” would provide better outcomes for patients.
She said the concept of the centre arose from the dire health situation the town found itself in, which was the result of a lack of infrastructure to attract and retain doctors and other professionals. It is hoped the educational facilities at the centre will give the town the opportunity to “grow” its own health professionals.
“It’s never going to provide that short-term cure, but it’s about looking at the big picture and the long-term,” Mrs Crawford said.
Mrs Crawford said the facility was unique because it was “community-owned” – $4.3 million was federal funding, but the remainder was contributed by the community and companies in the area.
“It’s a true example of the sort of results that can come about when the community gets together,” she said.
Also on Mr Crean’s agenda yesterday was the recently-completed Narrabri hospital redevelopment.
Patients were moved into the $37.7 million facility in February, but final work on the car parking, landscaping and helipad was only completed weeks ago.
Health service manager Sharon Simpson said the new facility improved patient treatment and flows through better design and the integration of community health services, such as the ambulance service creating a “health precinct”.
The hospital is equipped with telehealth facilities.
“It’s now not constrained by its isolation because the technology can really bring not just the community closer together but it can service its outlying areas,” Mr Crean said yesterday.
The redevelopment was one of the first projects to be jointlyfunded by the state and federal governments.