Charity hospital ready for referrals

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Melissa (left) and Della-May Vining look over concept plans for the Southland Charity Hospital. The plans detail features such as a dental service, signs and outdoor seating for patients to enjoy some sun. PHOTO: LAURA SMITH/IMAGES: SUPPLIED

On would have been Blair Vining’s 40th birthday, concept plans of the Southland Charity Hospital he envisaged have been revealed.

Yesterday, his wife, Melissa, announced the hospital was ready to take on GP referrals through its new system.

The Southland Charity Hospital Trust was established following Mr Vining’s “Epic Journey”, which aimed to create conversation about under resourced district health boards and improve cancer care in New Zealand.

Mr Vining was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in 2018 and was given only weeks to live. He died in October last year.

Until the building, previously the Clifton Club Inn, was repurposed, accepted referrals would be seen at Southern Cross Hospital in Invercargill, which would provide colonoscopies.

The plans also include a dental service, based on the “highly used” Canterbury Charity Hospital service.

Mrs Vining said it was an exciting announcement and lockdown had not stopped those involved in the project from reaching the milestone.

She said the partnership with Southern Cross highlighted the sense of urgency in providing care.

“We know people are not able to afford private colonoscopies and they don’t have medical insurance, and if they have been declined from the DHB, this will give huge peace of mind that they can access this from some of the best specialists in the country volunteering their time to do it,” she said.

It was also decided people who were on the screening programme whose wait through the Southern District Health Board was too long could be referred to the charity hospital through their GP.

Following the effects of Covid-19, more people would need the services of the charity hospital, she said. “It’s more prevalent now than when we started this project and not knowing what was going to happen.”

The repurposing of the building alone would cost $1 million, about half of which had been sourced. There would be further ongoing costs.

Bonisch Consultants managing director Boyd Wilson, who led the preparation of the concept drawings, said the next step would include the preparation of the resource consent application and development of detailed design plans.

The building was designed to be able to adapt to the needs of the community. As time went on and services were added, several multipurpose rooms could be adapted and there was the ability to add an extension to the building.

Mrs Vining said Mr Wilson hoped to have the building ready by Christmas next year. On the last day of Alert Level 3, the family celebrated Mr Vining’s birthday. They would hold a party for him at a later date when larger gatherings were allowed.

She said her husband would have been “stoked” with the support from the community; more than 150 volunteers had said they would help.

Her message to the southern region was she appreciated all the support given to the hospital’s development. “It will help create accountability of our health system by providing solid data on the need that is unmet.”

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