South Waikato Health Centre

South Waikato Health Centre brings together Tokoroa Hospital, GP practices, a new pharmacy and several other health services into a modern health campus that will help meet the needs for Tokoroa and the wider South Waikato community in the future.

With almost $2.1 million capital investment from Waikato DHB (which will be received from tenants as lease costs), two unused wards have been transformed into modern facilities that house a medical centre and a family GP practice, a pharmacy, and a wide range of other primary health services.

The project started with design work and tendering in April 2013, and tenants had all moved in and open for services by 20 January 2014.

Leadership and wider community support was vital in the project. As well as Waikato DHB, those involved over many years include:

  • Raukawa Trust Board (Raukawa is the iwi of the area)
  • Midlands Health Network - the Public Health Organisation (PHO) with three GP practices in Tokoroa 
  • South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services
  • South Waikato District Council and Mayor

The co-location project is a first step towards better integration of health services in Tokoroa.

Background

Tokoroa Hospital was opened in 1969. It sits on a large campus which includes a range of other buildings, several of which are tenanted by community groups.

Two ward areas were added to the main hospital block in anticipation of a higher volume of inpatients but were never used to their full extent, as the focus of health has increasingly moved from long stays in hospital to prevention, early detection and where possible care management in the community.

For this reason, Wards 3 and 4 were under-used and eventually “moth-balled” to conserve resources.

In parallel, there was growing efforts from Tokoroa community to look to the future of its health needs and how those could be met.

  • Like many rural areas, South Waikato has been very well served by local GPs, but the profile of health professionals has been getting older, and the ability to attract new staff to older premises and older practices has been a challenge.
  • There has been no drop off in the health needs of a rural community like South Waikato, and particularly amongst its Maori and Pacific Island communities.
  • Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, and rheumatic fever are all at a higher prevalence than the national average.

The benefits of co-location

  • services are gathered in one place easier for the community to access
  • more opportunities (formal and informal) for sharing information and professional knowledge, and inter-professional learning and practice
  • upgraded physical and technical environment
  • physical move creates opportunites to improve ways of working (the Tokoroa Medical Centre operates the new Midlands Health Network model of care)
  • easier to attract new health professionals to a “health hub”
  • sets a foundation for even more integration in future including
    • improved support for chronic patients who frequently use secondary services through improved engagement among secondary, primary and community clinicians
    • potential for a multidisciplinary team approach and the development of agreed patient flow pathways
    • improved connectivity with the local community through stronger links with Maori and Pacific health providers and potential for collaboration.

Who is located there?

The refurbished facilities now are home to:

  • Tokoroa Medical Centre (three combined Midlands Health Network medical practices)
  • Community Dental Clinic
  • Tokoroa Health Ltd GP practice
  • DHB’s hospital and community physiotherapy team (and gym)
  • Plunket
  • Independent midwives
  • Te Puawaitanga o te Pua room “time shared” by Raukawa’s mirimiri massage, a community podiatry clinic and some South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services (SWPICS)
  • DHB blood test collection and sample drop-off
  • Unichem Pharmacy (new)

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