Physio pool given 6-month reprieve

The Dunedin physio pool. Photo from the ODT files.
The Dunedin physio pool. Photo from the ODT files.
The Dunedin physio pool will stay open until at least June, after the Southern DHB backed down on a decision to close it in December.

The health board granted the reprieve yesterday and formally signalled its interest in a long-term lease with the trust running the pool, if possible.

The decision was greeted with joy by the Otago Therapeutic Pool Trust, which lobbied the board to reconsider the closure in December and will now have the time it needs to do the due diligence required to work out if it is viable to keep the category 2 listed pool open long term.

''I've got to smile at that,'' trust secretary-treasurer Neville Martin said when he heard the news.

''It's good news that the board has actually moved on from its earlier decision.''

The move follows community outrage after the health board announced it had decided to close the pool in December, because it could not afford its annual $100,000 contribution to operating costs and an up to $1 million required upgrade.

The 35degC pool is used by 40,000 people a year, mostly those recovering from injury or surgery, or people with disabilities or mobility issues.

Health board chairman Joe Butterfield said the board was pleased the trust this week gained the support of the Dunedin City Council, which is expected to confirm later this month a loan offer to the trust so it could get on with the due diligence work required to understand what was required to upgrade the building and what that would cost.

Leaving the pool open until June gave the trust enough time to do that work and work out a fundraising plan, Mr Butterfield said.

''For the small risk involved (for the health board) in that six months, it's a good long-term gain.''

The move was applauded by board member Mary Gamble, who said she was pleased health board management had listened to the community on this issue.

Mr Martin said the trust could now engage a team to undertake the due diligence work.

The health board had done some costings, but they were not to the level required by the trust to take to charitable organisations who might help fund the work.

Users of the pool were also happy they could use the pool until June.

Physiotherapist Mark Shirley said the news was ''superb''.

It was a valuable rehabilitation centre and physiotherapists would now get behind the trust to support it to keep it open past June.

''We need to start to think about how we can support a fundraising effort so we can get in behind the trust and try to get some money, because I think that's what it's going to come down to,'' he said.

CCS Disability Action regional manager Joy Gunn said it was ''fantastic'' the pool was staying open longer.

''All of the people that we support that use the pool will be stoked.''

Paraplegic Jim Duncan, who used the pool once a week for cardio training and had done for several years, was ''delighted''.

It gave the people who relied on it a bit of breathing space.

''It's just great for your mental wellbeing. It's amazing the difference that news makes.''

debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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