More than two years after Bonalbo Hospital shut its nighttime emergency room, and after almost as long waiting for a new town doctor, the health prospects of Bonalbo’s residents are looking up.
Lismore MP Thomas George today announced a new $15 million Multi Purpose Service centre (MPS) will be built in the town – offering a range of health services similar to those already provided by the MPS in Nimbin.
‘It can provide emergency care, inpatient beds, palliative care, respite care, residential aged care for those with low level dementia, provision for visiting specialists and a range of primary, community and ambulatory care services appropriate for our community.
But Mr George said it was still too early to say how many patients the new facility could handle, when it would open or what hours it would operate.
‘Planning will be completed by the end of this year and building will commence by mid next year. I’m not sure at this stage how long the build will take,’ he told Echonetdaily.
‘We’re still negotiating regarding aged care beds so the total number is not year available,’ he added.
The MPS model allows for recurrent funding by the federal government for aged care places.
But Mr George said things had already begun to look up in Bonalbo with the arrival of Dr Suntil, the first full-time doctor in the town for more than two years, who was appointed recently after an international search.
While he could not confirm whether Bonalbo would once again have nightime emergency services, Mr George did say, ‘I think in the long term the doctor would like to expand the service with the support of the community. I’m sure he’s got the will to do that.’
‘Multi Purpose Services are much-loved by communities because of its approach to delivering the specific care local residents need,’ Mr George said.
‘The new MPS facilities will provide flexible services to better respond to the health needs of our community and enable a more efficient delivery of those services through improved coordination of care.
Mr George said preliminary funding was provided in the 2013/14 budget to begin planning for the new MPS at Bonalbo. A further $8.3 million has been allocated in this year’s budget to progress planning and development of MPS projects across the state.
He confirmed that once the new facility opens the old Bonalbo Hospital will close.