New clinic fills Central Otago Emergency Department void

by Kim Bowden - Jun 06, 2024

A doctors clinic in Alexandra has today announced the opening date for a seven-day-a-week, walk-in service that it says will fill a void in Central Otago's healthcare provision.

The district does not have an Emergency Department or funded Accident and Medical clinics, and HealthCentral says it was done waiting for a fix.

"For many years we have identified gaps and inequities in service provision in our rural region, and with no imminent support or solutions available we have decided to not wait and proceed with opening a much needed urgent care centre," it said in a written statement today.

"The centre has been purpose built to service the wider Central Otago community and its visitors."

It says now local GPs absorb the burden of managing locals and tourists needing urgent care for acute conditions, in addition to their planned care workload, and that is not sustainable.

On July 8, HealthCentre will shift to its home on Tarbet Street on the site of the former Z Energy service station, and in the lead-up it will be opening the building for public tours.

HealthCentre general manager Jenaya Smith says, “This project has been a massive undertaking, so it is very rewarding to see the new facility we have worked so hard on come to fruition”.

While patients registered with HealthCentral will receive discounted rates, anyone is welcome at the centre, whether they are Central Otago residents or not, and no referral or appointment will be needed.

Opening hours will be from 8am until 6pm, and outside of that HealthCentral's 03 440 0295 number will be diverted to a new telehealth provider able to arrange care when required, with Ms Smith acknowledging her team is aware of difficulties being experienced with the WellSouth contracted after-hours telehealth provider.

While doctors across Wānaka, Cromwell and Alexandra work with their colleagues to provide weekend care for patients, Ms Smith says there is often confusion locally around who is the on-call practice, while some practices require their patients to travel to Frankton, in Queenstown, to access care.

She says due to funding and resourcing constraints it is becoming increasingly difficult for GPs to continue providing daytime weekend services.

Main image (Supplied) A new walk-in, emergency care service for Central Otago opens on July 8, in a purpose-built building on Tarbert Street in Alexandra. 


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