7-day urgent care centre opening

A new seven-day-a-week urgent care centre is to open in Alexandra next month.

The centre will be operated by HealthCentral in Tarbert St.

The centre would open on July 8, HealthCentral said in a media release yesterday.

The new walk-in service will be for non-life threatening injuries and illnesses.

The urgent care centre, which will be open from 8am-6pm, will operate under a system with no referral or appointment needed.

Patients who are registered with HealthCentral will receive discounted rates, including at weekends.

All sorts of medical issues will be handled, including chest pain, shortness of breath, ambulance presentations and unwell children.

If it is a medical emergency the new clinic is advising people to call 111.

After hours from 6pm to 8am, patients and visitors should call HealthCentral and the call will be diverted to a tele-health provider, which will arrange for the patient to be seen if required.

Central Otago does not have an emergency department or funded accident and medical clinic. As a result, primary care practices absorb the burden of managing acute/urgent care presentations in addition to their planned care workload.

This includes treating visitors to the region.

The situation has led to many issues. There has been confusion around which is the on-call practice and weekend clinic hours differ between regions.

Some practices require their patients to travel to Frankton to access care. There were some difficulties experienced with the WellSouth-contracted after-hours tele-health provider.

Due to funding and resourcing constraints, it is becoming increasingly difficult for primary care practices to continue providing daytime weekend services.

HealthCentral was the largest primary care practice in Alexandra and was both solution- and strategically focused, the media release said.

"For many years we have identified gaps and inequities in service provision in our rural region, and with no imminent support or solutions available we have decided to not wait and proceed with opening a much-needed urgent care centre. The centre has been purpose built to service the wider Central Otago community and its visitors," the release said.

HealthCentral clinical director and GP Kate Dixon said she was really excited to be able to improve access to urgent care for patients in Central Otago.

HealthCentral general manager Jenaya Smith said the project had been a massive undertaking, "so it is very rewarding to see the new facility we have worked so hard on come to fruition".