Health facility set to deal with challenges

Balclutha facility Clutha Health First (CHF) is in a strong position for the year ahead, say operators (from left), Clutha Health Incorporated chairman Hamish Anderson, CHF chief executive Ray Anton, and CHF board chairman Bill Thomson. Photo: Richard Dav
Balclutha facility Clutha Health First (CHF) is in a strong position for the year ahead, say operators (from left), Clutha Health Incorporated chairman Hamish Anderson, CHF chief executive Ray Anton, and CHF board chairman Bill Thomson. Photo: Richard Davison
Clutha Health First wants to keep improving staffing and facilities as it looks to the year ahead.

The Balclutha rural health facility had its annual meeting on Wednesday next week.

Chief executive Ray Anton told the Otago Daily Times key challenges during coming years lay in the areas of staff hiring and retention, and ''retaining capacity to deliver'' a growing range of patient services.

Although the past year had been successful both financially and in terms of health service delivery, that did not mean operators would be ''resting on their laurels''.

''Although the health industry seems continually to be in turmoil at present, the [Southern] District Health Board has made a commitment through its Primary and Community Strategy to develop an evolutionary model of health care.''

This was focusing on primary care (general practice) and community services, such as district nursing, occupational therapy and more, he said.

Clutha Health First was ''well-positioned'' to take part in the strategy.

''In fact, we're well on our way in many of the priority initiatives. We believe our approach and direction will continue to deliver the best possible health service to our community.''

Mr Anton highlighted maternity care as one area of success at the facility.

''Our strong financial position has allowed us to reinvest in facilities and services for our maternity unit, which has been reflected in an increasing number of births on site.''

He attributed the growth to providing a ''safe environment'' for practitioners, aiding retention.

''We pay and treat our lead maternity carers fairly and provide them with the support structure to feel safe and confident in their decision-making, and in their timely access to essential services.''

He said Clutha Health First continued to innovate, and had introduced a ''patient portal'' in July this year which had 754 patients registered to access detailed online information regarding their health.

A telephone triage service was also proving successful, providing ''fast and convenient'' access to discuss issues with a nurse while delivering cost savings to the facility as a whole.

Money saved through such initiatives could be redirected to further investment elsewhere.

He said the company's latest financial results - showing a net surplus of $635,597 on total revenue of $10.5million - had been ''pleasing''.

A major funding item during the next two years would the redevelopment of the facility's 24 Clyde St site, used at present for mental and public health.

''We need to look at this end-of-life building as part of a wider review, to retain our capacity to deliver a growing range of patient services.''

richard.davison@odt.co.nz

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