Grant brings medical centre extensions a step closer

It was 12 years ago when a crane lifted the roof onto the brand new Cobar Primary Health Care Centre building and now major extensions to the facility are planned with the help of a Federal Government grant announced last week. ▪ File photo

The Cobar Primary Health Care Centre’s proposed extensions will be going ahead following an announcement last week that the centre’s application for Federal Government funding had been approved.

The $200,000 grant for extensions will create more space in the centre to entice more doctors, nurses and other health professionals to come to Cobar.

Federal Assistant Minister for Health Dr David Gillespie announced the funding last week with Member for Parkes Mark Coulton pleased to see the Cobar Primary Health Care Centre among the 67 practices across the nation that were offered grants.

“The grant will enable this facility to expand and improve their services,” Mr Coulton said.

“Better facilities will allow more doctors, nurses and other health workers to get hands-on training in general practices in rural and remote areas like Cobar.

“They will be able to attend to patients and also, when they are fully qualified, are more likely to decide to stay in Cobar or another rural community.”

Dr Gillespie said the grants will be used to expand practice facilities with additional consultation rooms and space to allow for more teaching.

The grants can also be used to create meeting rooms where patients can receive education about health conditions, such as diabetes, so they can take a more active role in managing their own health.

“In the longer term, it also makes it more likely that junior doctors will choose to stay in these or other rural communities, when they are fully qualified,” Dr Gillespie said.

The grants must be matched by the selected practices with Cobar Shire Council to also contribute to the Cobar medical centre’s upgrade.

Council’s general manager Peter Vlatko said he was “tickled pink” that the funding had been approved.

“The council has been very supportive of this grant application and we will be providing around $120,000 for the work to go ahead.

“It’s a great opportunity to increase and improve the services at the medical centre, which council owns,” Mr Vlatko said.

As well as construction or renovation, the funding may be spent on fit out, computing technology or medical equipment.

“The Government supports a strong primary care workforce that can meet Australia’s future health care needs,” Minister Gillespie said.

“Improving access to doctors and other health professionals in rural and regional Australia is a priority for our long term national health plan.”