A NEW medical centre in Mirboo North is expected to help attract more high-quality doctors to the town.

The centre will be built on Ridgway, the town’s main street, as the first “Impact Investment” project of the Mirboo North & District Community Foundation.

MNDCF chairman Paul Pratt said he was “tremendously excited to announce that we have purchased land and are working on preliminary designs for a new health services facility”.

“We are delighted that we have been able to collaborate with the Mirboo North Medical Centre team, who have shared their valuable insights with us to develop this joint vision so we can strengthen the health of our community together,” Mr Pratt said.

The new facility, which will be built at 59-67 Ridgway, will be custom designed and built by Gippsland contractors in an effort to keep jobs local, resulting in a modern and sustainable building.

The spacious building will enable extra doctors to practice in Mirboo North, with room for four full-time GPs and access for various allied health professionals to rent rooms so that people from all age groups that reside in the community do not have to travel as far to receive expert healthcare.

Doctors and health professionals will not be paying rents to landlords; instead the rent will be paid back into to the Community Foundation, benefiting the community in the long run.

Mr Pratt said the Community Foundation had grown in value over its 10 years from $5 million to almost $8 million, whilst also providing $1.4 million in grants to the community. 

However, this is the Community Foundation’s first “Impact Investment”, meaning that the building project is not a grant, but an investment with both a financial and a social return. In this case there will be a smaller financial return for the rent paid for the facility and a large social return in the improvement to the health and wellbeing of the community.

“We believe that the long term wellbeing of the community is enhanced by having access to highly trained doctors, who can then continue to offer bulk billing services, and affordable allied health services to people of all ages in our area,” Mr Pratt said.

Mirboo North GP, Dr Sonya Moncrieff, has always had a vision for increasing health services in the township.

“I’m very excited to see this in the pipeline for the very deserving residents of Mirboo North. I believe every person in the area deserves access to a comprehensive health service and that this building will allow us to offer even more to our community,” Dr. Moncrieff said.

“I am passionate about continuing to offer a bulk billing service, which means that no one person in our care is financially discriminated against when it comes to accessing healthcare. Right now, curtailed space means we have had to turn away extra doctors who want to work in the area and at the moment we attract a limited amount of allied health services.”

She said a new building may encourage increased government catchment area health services to operate out of the facility.

The facility will cater for medical service provision over the next 30 years or more and will provide a platform for the attraction of high quality medical practitioners on an ongoing basis, making the service sustainable for the senior citizens who wish to continue to live independently in the rural area.

“Considering the history of the Community Foundation, where the funds to set it up originated from the sale of Mirboo North Community Care (now Japara), and before that the Mirboo North Bush Nursing Hospital, it seems fitting as well as socially and ethically responsible that this impact investment is helping to secure the on-going provision of bulk billing primary healthcare for our community,” Mr Pratt said.

While the building project is in the early stages of design and implementation, the Community Foundation is already working cooperatively with the South Gippsland Shire Council in the planning phase of the project. They anticipate that the total cost of the purpose-built facility will be between $1.5 million and $1.9 million. The new building is due to open September 2021.

South Gippsland Shire Council commended the project and congratulated the Foundation “for its forward-thinking community endeavours”.

Chair Administrator, Julie Eisenbise was delighted to see community spirit being translated into definitive action that would guarantee health services in Mirboo North for years to come.

“This is a wonderful initiative, one that recognised an issue in Mirboo North and then set about to resolve it. There is also a wonderful circularity with the Foundation using the resources that started with the sale of the Bush Nursing Hospital to provide facilities for the provision of health services,” Ms Eisenbise. said