Community hospital still an inspiration

The man who is the face of Motueka's community hospital was moved to tears when he stood to speak at Saturday's opening of his latest project - a $2.5 million, 28-bed rest care wing.

His voice breaking with emotion, Jack Inglis told the crowd there were too many people to thank individually for their support.

He said communities nationwide would recognise Motueka's achievement in financing, building and managing its own community hospital.

The new wing, complete with lounge, dining and activities rooms and ensuites in every room, joins the existing 45-bed hospital opened in 2009.

The former Nelson-Marlborough District Health Board hospital also on the Courtney St site offers maternity care and a centre for district health. The St John Ambulance service and other health providers are also located there.

Mr Inglis told the crowd of about 150 that the extension was built because the voluntary trust that manages the hospital recognised that the 2009 facility was not big enough to be financially sustainable in the long term.

"This is possibly the only hospital built, owned and run by a community in Australasia."

He said some finishing work was still required on the new wing, and the trust would continue fundraising.

NMDHB chairwoman Jenny Black said the facility represented a "stunning effort by a stunning community" and a courageous move by the trust. "This is a huge commitment, and shows faith in the community of Motueka."

Nelson MP and hospital trustee Nick Smith said he could remember his first approach from Mr Inglis in the 1980s, when Motueka's former NMDHB-owned hospital was threatened with closure.

"Jack said if the hospital closed, I was dead meat."

The trust was formed soon afterwards, and went on to lead a multitude of fundraising events in order to buy the hospital and eventually build the new facility.

"This model is inspiring other groups around New Zealand on what they can achieve," Dr Smith said.

West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor said rest homes were significant, because all New Zealanders would eventually need one.

He also paid tribute to Mr Inglis' wife, Anne, and the wider family for their support of the project, saying it would be hard to find a similar focused couple.

The new wing was officially opened by Associate Health Minster Jo Goodhew, who said the hospital would allow Motueka's ageing residents to grow old in their own town.

Mr Inglis' reputation as a man who would not take no for an answer as he followed his dream for the hospital had spread nationwide, she said.

"We have seen emotion from Jack today - what we have seen is the passion which got him and others to where we are today."