Healthcare provider in good order


Clutha Health First has received a positive prognosis for the coming year, despite the challenges posed by Covid-19.

In advance of the Balclutha facility’s annual meeting later this month, officials say they are pleased with financial and service delivery results in the face of the unprecedented global pandemic.

Chief executive Ray Anton said it had been a challenging few months.

‘‘We’ve been lucky in New Zealand as a whole, and here in Clutha, that we were largely unscathed by the virus.

‘‘However, our team has worked very hard to adapt to a rapidly changing service delivery landscape, and continued to provide quality healthcare to patients alongside an intensive [Covid-19] testing programme.’’

Clutha Community Health Company chairman Bill Thomson said thanks to a range of Covid-19 grants from funding bodies and the Government, the facility recorded a net surplus of $463,890 for the financial year.

Although this was down about $100,000 from the previous year, that was due to increased salary costs rather than Covid-19 measures, he said.

Clutha Health Incorporated chairman Hamish Anderson said having recorded surpluses for several years now, the facility was in a good position to invest in its infrastructure.

‘‘Our Clyde St building housing mental health and public health next door is no longer fit for purpose, so we’re now looking at what we do to house those services in the future.’’

That could include a rebuild integrating with the facility, bringing additional services under one roof.

Mr Anton said any development would need to take account of potential innovations and health sector changes.

Discussions were taking place with the Southern DHB to ensure ‘‘future-proofing’’.

He hoped the new facility could open its doors within two years.

An innovation already proving successful was the introduction of a health improvement practitioner (HIP) to augment existing mental health services, Mr Anton said.

‘‘When a person comes to see a GP here with a mental health problem, as in the past, the GP can provide medicine, or a referral for urgent intervention.

‘‘Now they can also walk the patient down the corridor to our HIP, perform a verbal handover, and the HIP can act early by starting the conversation there and then, and providing tools and strategies which may perhaps prevent a more serious long-term outcome.

‘‘That immediacy of intervention is a huge step for our patients.’’

The facility would keep innovating and enhancing facilities for patients in 2021, he said.