Medical centre and aged care home opens

EVAN HARDING
Last updated 12:27 21/08/2014
Allister Body
EVAN HARDING/Fairfax NZ

JOB WELL DONE: West Otago Health Trust chairman Allister Body gives the region’s new medical centre and aged care home, behind, the thumbs up.

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It's taken five years, thousands of volunteer hours and millions of dollars, but finally the the West Otago Medical Centre and Home for the Aged in Tapanui has opened.

Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan and West Otago Health Trust chairman Allister Body officially opened the new George and Caroline Edgar Memorial Building, which houses the medical centre and aged care home, yesterday.

Body said the driver to open the centre began in 2009 because the building which houses its predecessor in Norfolk St had passed its use-by date.

The trust already had land to build a new centre on - the site of the old hospital which closed in 1995 - so investigations began into building a new medical centre and aged care home on that land, he said.

A feasibility study revealed there was a demand for the centre, with the over-65 population in West Otago predicted to rise from 365 in 2009 to double that number in 2025.

With community backing, a fundraising group was put in place and they had been going ever since, Body said.

The facility has cost $3.55 million - made up of $1.5m from fundraising, a $1m grant from the Clutha District Council, $200,000 from Sir Eion Edgar and nearly $700,000 from Presbyterian Support Otago, which grew original funds from the Dependent Cottages Committee in Tapanui.

"The building has been fully funded," Body said.

"For 2200 people [in West Otago] it's a wonderful effort really. It's unbelievable. The community has really punched well above its weight."

More than 250 people attended the official opening yesterday, with the medical centre to open for business in about 10 days time and the aged care home to open in a couple of months.

Body paid tribute to everyone who had put in a total of about 20,000 volunteer hours to get the centre finished.

The aged care home would allow people living in West Otago to visit their elderly friends and family members locally instead of having to travel, he said.

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- The Southland Times

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