$500k boost for new centre

Those involved in the new Whanau Ora-led community health centre. From front to back is WellSouth...
Those involved in the new Whanau Ora-led community health centre. From front to back is WellSouth Maori health manager Peter Ellison, Te Putahitanga O Te Waipounamu chief executive Susan Turner, professor Peter Crampton, Otakou Runanga's Donna Matahaere-Atariki, Student Health Services and Pacific rep' clinical director Kim Ma'ia'a, project manager Albie Laurence and Huirapa Ki Puketeraki Runaka's Victoria Bryant. Photo: DAN HUTCHINSON
A Dunedin-first project to combat the health and social implications of poverty has got the green light and the funding to go with it. Dan Hutchinson takes a look at the new development being planned for Caversham. 

A new health and social service centre is being set up in Caversham - receiving a $500,000 boost this week to get it started.

Called Te Kaika, the new centre will occupy the old College Street School site (subject to government land sale negotiations) and includes a collaboration with the nearby Caversham Medical Centre.

Te Kaika spokesman Prof Peter Crampton - also dean of the Otago Medical School - said the new initiative was being driven by local iwi Kati Huirapa Runaka ki Puketeraki and Te Runaka o Otakou.

''It is iwi-owned and has a focus on Maori health but it is much broader than that, so Pacific families and, well, anybody [is covered].

''My experience, and the experience of others here, is that you set up this sort of service and it fills a need for all sorts of families.''

The centre will include a primary healthcare service with doctors and nurses but talks were also being held with a range of other social service providers.

Te Runaka o Otakou chairwoman Donna Matahaere-Atariki said it had received ''some very generous funding'' ($500,000) from the Whanau Ora Commission to get started on the project.

They were still working through the government land-disposal system for the College St site and were also yet to confirm who the other social service providers would be.

The focus of the new centre would be about providing free or very low-cost healthcare to those who needed it the most.

''How do you provide one door that people can go through and have all their needs met without having the five cars up the driveway that they presently get and no outcomes for them?'' Ms Matahaere-Atariki said.

Prof Crampton said there was a whole range of organisations involved and in discussions - community-based organisations, local schools, the council and a range of others.

''The very low-cost access practice is to provide essential primary healthcare services of very high quality to low-income families who have trouble accessing primary healthcare and there is plenty of those,'' Prof Crampton said.

He said a range of practical changes would make primary healthcare work better for people at the new centre, including increasing the amount of time for consultations and reducing the costs associated with consultations.

He said there were a couple of other practices doing similar things in Dunedin but this would be a ''more ambitious undertaking''.

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