Mackellar Care Services board strives to recruit doctors for Mackellar Rural Health Centre before Christmas | Video

RELIEVED: Mackellar Care Services board members Geoff Dawson, John Perkins, Gae Swain and Sandra Strong in the health centre on Tuesday morning. Photo: Vanessa Höhnke
RELIEVED: Mackellar Care Services board members Geoff Dawson, John Perkins, Gae Swain and Sandra Strong in the health centre on Tuesday morning. Photo: Vanessa Höhnke

The board of Mackellar Care Services is celebrating the reward of its perseverance.

On Monday, the board and Gunnedah Rural Health Services’ liquidator, Alan Hayes, announced the sale of the Gunnedah Rural Health Centre.

When the Namoi Valley Independent met with board members John Perkins, Sandra Strong, Gae Swain and Geoff Dawson at the centre on Tuesday, they said they were “relieved” that the wait was finally over.

The centre shut its doors on July 12 after the remaining doctor left. Alan Hayes had been appointed as voluntary administrator five days before.

Mackellar Care Services board member John Perkins and Sandra Strong share the latest on the Mackellar Rural Health Centre.

The health centre is situated on land owned by Hunter New England Health (HNEH) and the building was constructed with funds from the federal government through the GP Super Clinic program, donations from local mines and community fundraising.

Mrs Strong said Mackellar Care submitted an expression of interest for the clinic in late July and hoped to be operational before Christmas, however, delays have slowed the process considerably.

She hoped Mackellar Care would occupy the building by October 1 but the lease was not delivered by HNEH until October 10. On Friday at 5.50pm, the board got the notification that the Department of Health had signed-off on the sale.

The hunt now continues for doctors, with a chief medical officer, Dr MartinJodlowski-Tan already at work and due to arrive in Gunnedah on Wednesday. One doctor has been confirmed to begin at the centre in February 2018.

In the meantime, Mrs Strong said there is much to be done to ready the building, including plumbing and electrical works. A number of staff have already been employed including administration and an accountant and the board is currently in the process of presenting a contract to a registered nurse. Allied Health has shown interest in the clinic.

Mrs Strong said the board was thankful for the assistance of Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson and Parkes MP Mark Coulton, which was “instrumental in helping us achieve this so this can remain a community-centred facility”.

“We’d also like to thank the community itself for the support they’ve given us and the encouragement they’ve given to the board to put in an expression of interest and persevere and continue this to keep the original intention behind the centre,” she said.

Mrs Strong said in the long-term, the board anticipated having a “shop front” for Mackellar Care’s home care services in the centre. 

“The continuity of life is what we provide for the community – that’s the essence of the aim of the board,” she said.