Medical centre to open in Renwick

KAT PICKFORD
Last updated 11:30 05/12/2012

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A Marlborough doctor plans to open a medical centre in Renwick early next year.

Doctor Buzz Burrell said yesterday the centre would provide for people in Renwick and the surrounding rural communities, particularly people who were immobile and vulnerable.

"I've heard a lot of people who live in Renwick say they are worried about getting to the doctor's as they get older and it would be lovely to be meet their needs. I'm guessing there's a community of about 2000 people in Renwick, and I'm amazed it's survived this long without a medical centre."

He hoped he and his staff would be able to make house calls for people who were stuck at home alone, he said.

Renwick has not had a doctor for more than 10 years after the late Dr Anne Brown who was the sole doctor for 15 years, moved to Springlands Health before she died of cancer in 2008.

The new practice will run slightly differently, with nurses taking more responsibility and ensuring people who need to be seen get top priority. Dr Burrell, who co-ordinates the Otago University rural medical immersion programme at the Wairau Hospital, wants to foster a strong teaching focus at the new centre to strengthen the university's presence in Marlborough.

"The more students we have in Marlborough, the more we will be able to attract doctors to stay on in the region, which will allow us to put a succession plan in place."

Many of his colleagues questioned his decision to open a private practice at a time when most medical centres were centralising their services, but he was overwhelmed with support, he said.

He bought a house on 44 High St in Renwick more than a year ago with the plan to open a practice, and has been doing temporary work in North Canterbury and the West Coast to build up capital to get the centre started.

"A few people have questioned my mental health, it's a huge risk, but I've got insight and can see there is a need."

He would begin advertising for enrolments before the medical centre opens and encouraged people to register sooner rather than later.

The proposed medical centre on the corner of High St and Alma St would have four examination rooms, a reception area and childrens' play area and parking, according to a resource consent application lodged with the Marlborough District Council this week.

The proposal was going through consent process and he hoped to be open early next year, Dr Burrell said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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