Pipe band hands over hall – Hospital may open `integrated family health centre’

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Oamaru’s North Otago Highland Pipe Band Hall may become the home of a medical centre or something similar after being bought by Waitaki District Health Services.
A handover ceremony took place at the hall on Wednesday night after Waitaki District Health Services (WDHS) signed an agreement with the council, which owns the land.
WDHS is a Waitaki District Council-owned company that owns and runs Oamaru Hospital and provides health services under contract to the Southern District Health Board.
In November, WDHS chairman George Berry said a plan to establish a medical centre in the hall, which was built in 1960, was in its early stages.
The idea was to work with GPs and health professionals, rather than compete with them. “Integrated family health centres” were becoming more common around the country, Mr Berry said.
Oamaru Hospital general manager Robert Gonzales declined to give details of plans for the hall but said Waitaki District Health Services was “open to all options”.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to look at other community-based services,” Mr Gonzales said on Wednesday.
“It’s really going to be an extension of what the hospital is doing at the moment and to encourage community-level type services for the community.
“For us, it’s additional space where the hospital can look at future options. It will give us more flexibility, really.”He said the acquisition of the hall meant Waitaki District Health Services would be able to provide more “integrated and extensive” health services.
The pipe band has permission to use a room in the Scottish Hall on Tyne St for practising.
North Otago Highland Pipe Band pipe major and secretary Janice Hayes was sad to be losing the building but said she was happy it would be used for a good purpose.
“We can’t afford to keep the place … but it’s still there to help the people of North Otago. Whatever the hospital does with it will be for the benefit of North Otago.”Rex Murray, a life member of the band, which he has been part of for 62 years, said the sale of the hall was a sign of the times.
“It’s pretty sad, but we can’t do anything about it really. That’s the way life is these days.”