Minister opens $26m facility amid calls for more cash

AMID a bitter tug-of-war over health funding, state Health Minister David Davis found time to fly into Warrnambool yesterday to officially open the city’s new $26 million community health facility. 

Healthcare, local government and political representatives crowded into the building yesterday morning for back-to-back meetings with the minister. 

The board of South West Healthcare (SWH), Peter’s Project and Moyne Shire each met with Mr Davis during his whirlwind tour of the city. 

“This facility is a beacon and bringing it all together is a remarkable achievement,” Mr Davis told a packed room of local leaders and dignitaries. 

“This is the largest integrated community health facility in regional Victoria and incorporates an extensive range of allied health, specialist clinics, Aboriginal health services as well as community and mental health.

‘This is a innovative one-stop shop for health care and it means more co-ordinated and better care.”

The opening marked the end of the $115 million SWH redevelopment. It’s hoped the new facility will also take the weight off the base hospital’s emergency department for category three to four patients. 

“We know that those who cannot access primary care will often choose hospitals to meet their not always critical healthcare needs,” Mr Davis said. 

“This places significant strain on emergency department resources and we know a number of local patients were using the emergency department in that way.”

South West Healthcare chairman Chris Logan said the facility was the workplace of 270 staff in 31 departments across allied and mental health.

Mr Logan also urged the minister to seek an end to the standoff with the federal government over responsibility for funding cuts that have forced bed closures at the Warrnambool Base Hospital. 

“This is a difficult situation for all health services so I urge and encourage the minister to seek an urgent resolution with his federal counterpart to restore the $1.4 million of funding that was unexpectedly removed from South West Healthcare,” he said. 

Mr Logan said the redevelopment would help bring more specialists to Warrnambool and reduce the need for south-west patients  to travel to Geelong. 

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