Celebrations for health service

Maniototo Health Services celebrated three milestones last week, including marking 30 years since...
Maniototo Health Services celebrated three milestones last week, including marking 30 years since the service was founded. PHOTOS: RUBY SHAW
Maniototo Health Services had a trifecta of reasons to celebrate last week — including marking 30 years since the service was established.

Maniototo residents, past and present health staff and Maniototo Health Service Board members gathered last Tuesday for speeches and afternoon tea, to celebrate the hospital’s newly renovated kitchen, five years since the new hospital buildings were opened and 30 years since the board took over the hospital.

The health service in Ranfurly included a medical centre, rest-home, and hospital with a wide range of medical services from X-rays to maternity care.

Former board chairman Gerald Dowling said he was very proud of the hospital, which he believed was an excellent asset for the area.

He sat on the inaugural boardin the early 1990s, which looked at taking on the hospital from the Otago Area Health Board.

While there were plenty of unknowns, the board took the plunge in 1994.

"We improved what we could improve in an old hospital," Mr Dowling said.

"We were very careful with our money ... we built up our reserves through good management and the help of the staff."

In 2019, the new, built-for-purpose hospital opened to much fanfare after significant community fundraising.

"We had to be prudent, careful, work with our staff . . . and we were successful," Mr Dowling said.

"We’ve got a health service here now, that is here for many, many years to come."

The health service could respond to the diverse needs of the rural community — letting older people stay in the area while providing support for younger newcomers.

"It gives them confidence then to come into Maniototo and prevents the farming area from becoming a backwater ... it gives the community stability," he said.

"Being a new hospital, the management style, the attitude, the outlook, all those things attract staff that we desperately need."

Previous Maniototo Health Services chairman Gerald Dowling (left) and current chairman Stuart...
Previous Maniototo Health Services chairman Gerald Dowling (left) and current chairman Stuart Paterson speak during hospital celebrations.
Mr Dowling now appreciated the hospital from a different perspective — he had recently become a resident in the rest-home.

"It does complete the circle, really," he said.

"People want to be here, they enjoy being here here."

Maniototo Health Services Ltd chairman Stuart Paterson said the health service was a great resource for the community.

"It’s something to celebrate that we’ve got [to] 30 years — hopefully there’ll be a lot of years to go."

The hospital was essential for the approximately 1800 people it serviced, Mr Paterson said.

"Once we decided to do it, the whole community got behind it ... money was just volunteered."

Boards were careful with funds over the years, which set the health service up for success in the present, he said.

"It was their good management that put us in the position to be able to build this [hospital] that we’re in today."

The board would work to maintain the hospital’s surplus, to show the government the hospital was financially viable and up for future contracts, he said.

"I’m confident this can be achieved and I’m also confident in the future of Maniototo Health Services for many years."

Board member John Mulholland said it was great to see people using the new kitchen space and the wider hospital.

The community had "wholeheartedly" supported the fundraising efforts when the idea of a new hospital was raised.

While the old hospital had been "past its use-by date", the current facility had a great atmosphere, Mr Mulholland said.

"You can attribute that to the staff."