STAFFING could delay the opening of a new specialist facility at Bendigo Health.
Recruitment is underway for about 14 clinical and non-clinical staffers to operate an $8.5 million, eight-bed service for patients with both mental health and substance abuse issues.
Bendigo Health is understood to be leading the development of the dual-diagnosis service model, which has been described as the “first of its kind”.
The service will be based at Vahland House, formerly home to the health care group’s Extended Care Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit.
Refurbishment works are expected to start shortly.
Bendigo Health psychiatric services executive director, Associate Professor Phil Tune, anticipated the beds would be ready by March 31.
But he did not specify when the facility was likely to open, saying it was “too early to call”.
Both the department and Bendigo Health have identified staffing as a potential source of delay.
Dr Tune was hopeful the roles would appeal to those in the field.
A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said a range of specialist roles would be required, including registered nursing, occupational therapy, psychology and psychiatry.
The department is understood to expect the new facility to come online ‘in the coming months’, allowing time for additional planning to ensure the model of care and specialist staff are appropriately established.
The eight beds at Bendigo Health were announced as part of a statewide roll-out of 100 residential rehabilitation beds.
The beds at Bendigo Health are the only ones specified as offering a dual-diagnosis model of care.
The state government initially said all 100 beds statewide were to be established by March, but the timeframe has been extended to “coming months” in more recent dialogue.
The state government has invested $53 million in the beds.
“Our investments will more than double the number of drug residential rehabilitation beds in Victoria,” Minister for Mental Health, Martin Foley, said.
“Drug and alcohol addiction tears families and communities apart – and it’s our responsibility to make sure the right services are available for vulnerable people.”
A total of 19 beds statewide are already online.
Bendigo Health will deliver all aspects of the new dual diagnosis service at Vahland House. But Dr Tune said the health care group would work with other organisations in the community to ensure continuity of care.
Bendigo Community Health services is expected to be among them.
“We look forward to that relationship becoming stronger,” Dr Tune said.