Wedderburn achievement shows power of teamwork

THE official opening of the Wedderburn Health Clinic on Saturday, February 2, is more than just the opening of a much-needed general practice – it is a celebration of the collaboration of a long-running community group, a health service provider and a local council.

“It’s a happy story of collaboration and people working together,” Inglewood and Districts Health Services (IDHS) chief executive Mike Parker said.

“It’s a great outcome.”

The development of the Wedderburn Health Clinic was instigated by the Korong Hospital Investment Fund Committee, and fulfilled by the IDHS and Loddon Shire Council.

The centre is the biggest project undertaken by the Korong Hospital Investment Fund Committee, which has been providing assistance to the town’s emergency services for the past 22 years.

The group took over the maintenance of the Korong Vale Bush Nursing Hospital building when it closed 22 years ago and oversaw its use as a community health centre, doctor’s surgery, veterinary clinic and a hairdresser for the next 15 years.

They sold the building seven years ago and used the money raised from the sale to support community emergency services, such as the SES and the CFA.

In 2010, the idea of the Wedderburn Health Clinic was brought up in a committee meeting.

“We considered there was a need for a new medical centre in town,” Korong Vale Bush Nursing Hospital president Peter Norman said.

“So we decided we would support it by using $300,000 to buy a block of land and then donate it to the new centre.”

The group approached IDHS and Loddon Shire Council, who jumped on board.

Four years later Wedderburn has a state-of-the-art health clinic that has room for two general practitioners. “It will provide general practice and medical services to the area for next 30 to 40 years,” Mr Parker said.

He said there was a real need for updated medical services in the centre in the town. 

“The people of Wedderburn had a health clinic that was delivered to the township and surrounds out of an old building for many years,’ Mr Parker said.

“It was an old building past its use-by date, and there wasn’t sufficient funding around to update it.”

He said there was also the problem of attracting healthcare workers to the town.

“To get doctors to come to region, we need good facilities and good housing,” he said.

Mr Parker described the project as “extraordinary” because it was achieved with no help from government.

“To get $500,000 is no mean feat in a small community,” he said.

“Also Korong Vale is very low on socioeconomic profiles, which makes this effort even more extraordinary.”

Mr Norman said the members of the Korong Hospital Investment Fund Committee were extremely proud of their contribution to the clinic.

“We are only a small committee and mainly we’ve been an older committee, but we are very dedicated,” he said.

He said satisfaction of serving the community kept the group operating long after the closure of the bush nursing centre.

“It’s just a desire to help Wedderburn when we can,” he said.  

“If we saw the need and it came within the parameters of our model rules, which are to provide for emergency services, then we would do it.”

The Member for Swan Hill, Peter Walsh, will officially open the building at midday on February 2, with a free barbecue to follow.

Mr Norman said there was one moment on the day that he was particularly looking forward to.

“We’re going to unveil a commemorative plaque in memory of Korong Vale Bushing Nursing Centre’s former doctors, nurses and committees,” he said.

“I think we all are very proud of what we’ve achieved.”

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