Business View Oceania | January 2020

95 96 BUSINESS VIEW OCEANIA JANUARY 2020 BUSINESS VIEW OCEANIA JANUARY 2020 Alistair Body, Chairman of the West Otago Health Trust board, admits, “We’re lucky that the site of the old hospital was surrounded by a golf course, so the local golf club, essentially, does the landscape gardening for us. They’ve got 18 holes that completely surround the building. So that helps with maintenance and it was one of the draw cards of the site.” The original cottage hospital was built in the 1930s and sat on the site for a long time on its own. And then in the early 1980s, the community decided there was a need for semi-dependent living options for the elderly in West Otago. The project was driven by the local Masonic Lodge; they fundraised enough money to build two units and the community joined in to build two more. All four were recently renovated and have become part of the Ribbonwood complex. Those residents, including one couple currently living in one of the units, are welcome to join the Ribbonwood residents for lunch every day but basically live on the campus. All 14 beds are dual level care, so they’re WEST OTAGO HEALTH LTD (R I BBONWOOD COUNTRY HOME) approved for hospital as well as rest home. Body recounts, “When we designed the building, we didn’t want people to have to change rooms when their needs changed, we wanted their care to change around them and not the other way around. So there is quite a strong philosophy on making sure we do things with this being their house rather than a facility.” Today, West Otago Health Trust owns the land and buildings, as well as a house in town where the doctor lives (trustees are appointed by the local community board which is a function of local government). And the Trust also 100 percent owns West Otago Health Ltd.– that company has a separate board and their job is to run the business. When the original cottage hospital was closed in the ‘90s, the government gifted the site back to the community and the West Otago Health Trust was formed to take ownership of that land. When the long-serving GP eventually retired, the Trust bought the local medical practise. As time went on, the demand for an option for the elderly to stay in West Otago led to a feasibility study which looked at the concept of an integrated healthcare facility. That became the Medical Centre, and Ribbonwood (the aged care part) and the Community Nursing that is run by the Trust. About 95 percent of the money for the build came from within West Otago. Body acknowledges, “We’re usually at 100 percent capacity with permanent residents, and while we don’t have a wait list there are people looking for respite care that we can’t cater for at the moment because we don’t have room. I came on the Trust just prior to construction of the building and my biggest regret is that we should have built more rooms.” Fortunately, all the rooms are multi-purpose, so if there is a vacancy and someone needs palliative care, they can come straight in. Karen McHutchon, Manager of West Otago Health, explains “Often it’s only a two or three week period when someone needs end of life care… it’s nice to have a spare room so if that happens you can admit them and look after them, because often it’s short notice.”