Progress is being made to transfer the Taihape Health Centre to the former hospital building on the same grounds.
The practice has been operating out of its current premises on Hospital Rd for the past 10 years, but the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic showed the facility was limited in terms of space and ability to accommodate all services.
In 2021, the option to refurbish the neighbouring hospital facility was put forward to the Whanganui District Health Board by Whanganui Regional Health Network, Taihape Health Ltd Directors and Mōkai Pātea Services.
Community members and kaumātua met with the groups at a hui in December.
Whanganui Regional Health Network chief executive Jude MacDonald said an engineer had been commissioned to survey the campus to understand what modifications could support the access and layout. “And, if possible, to utilise the ‘footprint’ of the campus surrounding the rural health centre better.”
Architect Duncan Sinclair has been working with the groups to understand the space required for services, community and business activity. Sinclair’s first draft focused on zoned areas to ensure there was dedicated and logically designed space to serve various needs.
The zoned campus drawing was endorsed in principle by the Integrated Development Group at a meeting last month.
Designs will stick to the current structure of the building as much as possible, while creating spaces the community and stakeholders have identified as important.
Taihape Health practice manager Gemma Kennedy said the preference was to have separate access to the area, away from any public entry.
“We are also discussing a linking corridor between the wing that is under-utilised and the main area of the building. A specific area for maternity and X-ray remains a priority.”
“However, that may be rejigged, dependent on whether the barium walls needed for the radiology service plant and equipment are still in situ.”
An architect will view the building the general practice currently uses to identify whether it can be turned into residential apartments once it has been vacated.
“Our preference at the moment is to wait and see who is accommodated within the redesigned rural health centre, and possibly consider accommodating the overflow,” Otaihape Health Trust chairwoman Marian Clever said.
“Before anything is progressed, a community survey will need to identify the level of interest, to access some population projection data and gauge a level of commitment from the community to run the service.
Rangitīkei District Council environmental manager Jaime Reibel said a housing steering group had been formed, with shared membership in a community development trust.
“That ensures connected planning and discussion.
“This links in well with Rangitīkei District Council, who are leading a housing workshop in March.”
This article was originally published in, and all credit is given to Whanganui Chronicle.