Victorian Shadow Minister for Country Health Emma Kealy has agreed more than $10 million in funding for a theatre restructure alongside funding for other required services needs to be a priority for Yarrawonga Health as the town quickly grows to becoming a future regional centre.
This is the second visit in twelve months for Ms Kealy as she dropped into Yarrawonga Health last August for a briefing by executives on the services the health hub supplies before being taken on a tour of the facilities last week with local Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy.
“I recognise the regional health needs of country communities coming from a rural background myself,” Ms Kealy said.
“This makes for a good case for funding.”
The current board of Yarrawonga Health identified the desperate need for a new theatre and sterilisation department as well as the need for upgrading other services to meet demand and standards.
Yarrawonga Health Director of Clinical Services Kaye Gall said moving into the future, projects such as the ones suggested are a priority to maintain services in the area.
“We are hoping to receive in excess of ten million dollars from the government to meet the new service plans we have for a new theatre, sterilisation department and upgrades to the administration building,” Ms Gall said.
“But we’re looking at that sustainability going forward and what we’ve been talking about does make it a service that meets the needs of the community and builds on work that we’ve done from our service planning.
“This service over the last three to five years has really reflected what we can do safely in a community of this size and we now have a viable surgical service that supports what is our next step.
“We don’t want that in five years or ten years, we want that in three.
“We’ve grown our theatre over the last three years from eight to ten sessions per month to four to seven per fortnight so this is about making sure we’re compliant and we maintain those services going forward.”
Ms Kealy was all ears with every prospect mentioned and saw the need for country health services such as Yarrawonga Health to receive more funding to ensure its future growth.
“We need to make sure we get a better deal for country health. The best health outcomes you can get is when people can access health services locally that are high quality and reliable,” Ms Kealy said.
“People will even come and live in an area if they have access to good quality health and it’s an attraction for staff too with a fitter, happier, healthier community who are much more productive.
“I think a model where we invest in country health services is important and certainly not the centralisation model we see where only the metropolitan areas are receiving the large funding.”
Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy has been flagging the need for more funding for Yarrawonga Health for some time.
“The catchment here is over 12,000 people and in the summer time it just grows,” Mr McCurdy said.
“This is a two-pronged approach - we are looking at short term options as well as looking for what plans could begin for ten years down the track.
“There is no better time like the present to get some money.”