Matamata's Pohlen Hospital will soon have a new wing dedicated to palliative care.
Fundraising arm Pohlen Foundation Trust embarked on a programme for a new wing four years ago, and trust chairwoman Lady Margaret Spring said that although details were yet to be worked through, the project to help care for an aging population in the region was set to become reality.
Lady Spring said the Pohlen Hospital Trust Board, which managed the hospital, had endorsed the concept of a new wing.
She said it was also hoped it would have the flexibility to enable the hospital to use patient rooms for other purposes.
Pohlen Hospital has 33 beds and while not operated by the Waikato District Health Board, holds contracts for services including maternity and respite care.
Announcing the addition of the wing at a Ladies Luncheon event in Matamata, Lady Spring told guests it was not known what the it would look like.
"Currently discussion, investigation and research are being undertaken so we get it right.
"Concepts, plans, costings and time frames will happen in due course.
"While the design and the fit-out are important, so too is the care team. Having a quality palliative care team is one of the project's aims."
Lady Spring said recent statistical demographic data from the Matamata-Piako District Council confirmed what everyone knew - people aged 65 years and over make up 18 per cent of the Matamata-Piako community compared with 14.3 per cent for the rest of New Zealand. What that was saying, she said, was the Matamata-Piako area has a much higher number of those persons aged 65 years and over.
"We have an ageing population. It is clear to me that if we are to be responsible, we must commit to this new wing now.
"We always knew there was a real need to provide additional beds, but to be able to have an additional wing that is flexible enough to cater for both extra hospital beds and specialised care beds is sensible strategic thinking.
"But clearly this is dependent on many factors, the main one being the availability of funding."
Leonie Tisch, deputy chair of the Pohlen Hospital Trust Board, said those aged 65 and over were predicted to increase to between 31 and 36 per cent of the community's population in 30 years time.
"The impacts of health needs over the coming decade will definitely be a lot different to what we have today," she said.
The trust board had made significant upgrades to the hospital. Mrs Tisch said the community now had a state-of-the-art facility which would celebrate 50 years of operation in two years' time.
"We have to pat ourselves on the back because this facility has been entirely provided by you and I, by putting our hands in our pockets and supporting this."
Mrs Tisch said the new wing would be located at the northern end of the property.
"You will see some development between the next 12 to 24 months. "It all depends how long it takes to get the first sod turned."
- Waikato Times
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