Dr Tim Ewer spoke at the September Mapua and Districts Community Association meeting regarding the past, present and future status of the Mapua Health Centre. He started his presentation by highlighting the history of the Mapua Health Centre and how it started in March 1990. At that stage locals already formed a committee looking at setting up a healthcare facility. Tim joined the committee and offered his services as a doctor. At the same time the Nelson Hospital board bought the old Post Office as a space for the District Nurse to work from, which the Health Centre now occupies. For the first 4 years Tim was the sole doctor at the health centre. Over time more doctors were employed and the building extended with great community involvement.
The current dilemma is that the building has reached capacity with no option to extend any further at the current location. The centre employs 23 staff and operates as a teaching practice. Apart from Mapua growing, hospitals are increasing services required by General Practices. The facility will need to be extended in order to meet the needs of the growing community. There is space at the back of the health centre to expand but council will not allow further extensions owing to parking restrictions. Another option would be to build a brand new health centre but cost of land, etc. is making this a challenging option. Tim explained that he has looked into various options and has even come up with a design of the type of health centre he believes would be most suitable for the growing health related needs within Mapua. The actual design plans were passed around the meeting audience for all to see.
A MDCA member raised the question of looking into the option of introducing or partnering with another practice in Mapua. Tim responded that financial viability for GP’s is a growing concern with many not able to sustain the high costs involved.
Another member highlighted the open space available around 20 Aranui Road open space and asked if this space might be a suitable possibility. Tim responded by saying that that specific land is council owned with talks of land divided up in sections already, costing over $1 million. The only way that this land might be made available for a health care centre is if it comes through central government with significant community pressure for the land to be acquired. Tim also said several proposals have been submitted to council for a health care centre, gym and rest home.
The question was raised: How can we as a community proceed to make council aware of the need?
Tim has approached council but without much progress made.
Question – 8 doctors in Motueka came together to form practice/profit sharing business. Any possibility to do something similar by going private?
Tim – some practices tried doing it through community projects but found no council support for land and were thus forced to go private in some syndicate type of set-up.
Question – what do you want to be known for?
Tim – we’re about to take on a Health Care Home programme. A new form of delivering health care. Patient centred where the doctor goes to the patient rather than patient to doctor. Best care, best modern ways of doing, providing the extra services and eventually doing it in a fully serviced building to provide a full spectrum of possibilities. In a small way he has tried to do this already.
A member asked if there are any other models similar to Mapua with community ownership, size, building etc. Suggesting that it might be easier for community to attract money than for a number of doctors which might be seen only as a for-profit business.
Tim– it would be ideal for a community-owned type syndicate. In reality, you need to look at a 7-10% return. Wakefield is an example of community owned health centre but the price of going to the doctor is the same as Mapua as it’s still an expensive business to run. It’s a model that has worked but was set up in the 80’s.
Tim was asked what his ideal time line would be and answered that it comes down to having sufficient seed funds to make it happen as well as having business momentum behind it.
Tim concluded that the most feasible solution would be for a philanthropic effort aimed at obtaining land and building a multifunctional health care centre specifically for Mapua community.
MDCA Chairperson Marion Satherly thanked Tim for his insightful presentation encouraged all to get in touch with Tim should they know of any other options available or know of a philanthropist that would invest in such a type of project.
Water and Wastewater Improvements Update
Also presenting at the September 10 meeting was Rob O’Grady, TDC Project Manager, speaking about the upgrade of Stafford Drive and Aranui Road water and wastewater systems. Rob highlighted the fact that $15 million have been set aside for water projects in our area with the Aranui Rd /Stafford Dr being one of the first. The project involves:
- An upgrade to the wastewater pump station in Ruby Bay, including a new underground emergency storage tank and odour control.
- A new wastewater pump station at 69 Stafford Drive, which will replace the existing pump station at 72 Stafford Drive. The new pump station will include underground emergency storage and odour control.
- A new water main running from Mapua Wharf to Pine Hill Road.
- A new wastewater pipe running from Mapua Wharf to Ruby Bay.
The project work is targeted to begin in January 2019 and be completed by November 2019. At a later stage, potentially years away, the plan will also involve setting up a pipeline from Mapua Wharf over to Rabbit Island towards wastewater works.
In response to a question from the floor about lifespan of system and the amount of people it is designed to cater for, Rob said the wastewater pipe sizing is for approximately 30 years and that estimating population growth can be challenging since our area has had significant growth just recently.
Asked what has been highlighted as the key risk areas, Rob stated keeping within budget; not having to do things twice; minimizing disruptions in community and being sure to be engaged with community.
Three projects have been grouped together with work taking place at the same time in order to be more efficient – one trench for mains and waste water pipes for example. The community will be well informed about work taking place and how it will affect them. The TDC team is determined to maintain good relations with community.
In Other News
It was reported that a substantial rebuild of the steps going over the Tait Street sea wall will start later this month.
Be sure to attend our next monthly meeting: Monday, 8 October at 7 PM, Mapua Hall.