Helen Haines MP has called on the federal Government to commit to co-funding the Bright Hospital redevelopment, after the Alpine Health board endorsed a feasibility study for the future of the hospital.
The Independent Federal Member for Indi has written to Minister for Regional Health David Gillespie, sending him a copy of the feasibility study and urging the federal Government to uphold its responsibility for aged care and fund new high care facilities which are desperately needed in Bright and the surrounding community.
The proposed redevelopment will result in new and refurbished facilities that meet current standards for the delivery of integrated health services in the town.
“The Bright Hospital Redevelopment is a critical project sought by the community for over three decades,” Dr Haines said.
“Despite the best efforts of Alpine Health, the existing health service infrastructure is not meeting the needs of the growing and ageing community and visitor population.”
The feasibility study endorsed by the Alpine Health board in August recommends the development of a health precinct, including aged care, acute health and the Hawthorn Village Training Facility, at an estimated cost of $40 million. The high-care aged care facility part is costed at $26 million.
“The need for high-care aged care facilities in Bright grows more pressing each day,” Dr Haines said.
“The current facilities can’t support people with high needs. Their only option is to relocate to for care, away from family and community.
“I am seeing spouses separated after lifetimes together. People isolated from their families who struggle to visit them. This is heartbreaking. Older Australians in Bright deserve to age with dignity, in the communities where they have lived and contributed to, and where their loved ones are close by. That is why the federal Government must come to the table on the Bright Hospital redevelopment.”
Community consultation on the feasibility study will start next month, with a business case also in development.
The redevelopment would need both the federal and state governments to commit to funding, and Dr Haines has invited Dr Gillespie to attend a roundtable meeting with representatives of Alpine Health, the Victorian Minister for Health and the community to discuss the future of the proposal.
Dr Haines has already discussed the need for upgrades in health services in Bright with Dr Gillespie in a meeting in Canberra, where he committed to visiting the alpine town later this year and learn more about the desperate need for upgraded health facilities.
In 2015 the federal government approved a licence for a private provider to run a 81-bed aged care facility, but this year that licence was handed back with no such service being built.