Community health integration gets Ministerial seal of approval

A shared future is one step closer with the Minister for Health formally having approved the integration of Castlemaine Health and CHIRP Community Health.

The integration is supported by an independent review and feedback from staff, consumers, partner organisations and the wider community. Both Boards formally endorsed integration at their meetings in June.

Castlemaine Health Board Chair Peggy Ronnau said: “The case for integration couldn’t be more compelling. We are better together. With this decision we’re now just months away from a shared future where our unique people, identities and strengths work as one to deliver the very best community health services around.”

CHIRP Chair Lexi Randall-L’Estrange said: “This was the very last formal step so we’re not resting on our laurels. There is a great deal of work already in progress as we prepare for implementation of integration on 1 October 2021.”

Community health clients and the wider community will not experience any changes to the services they receive or the staff delivering their care. Community health services currently delivered from CHIRP’s premises on Mostyn Street will continue, as will the services being delivered in the community and at Castlemaine Health. Over time the integrated organisation expects to find natural opportunities to combine and grow services but this work has a longer-term horizon.

For now, the CEOs and teams from both organisations are meeting regularly to work through the detail of integration to agree how best to navigate the operational, governance and financial issues that will underpin successful integration. Much of their work over the next few months will also focus on supporting staff and volunteers’ transition into the newly integrated organisation.

Ms Ronnau said: “Integration is not a bolt-on. Both organisations are looking at what we do and how we do it. We’re making sure that we’re all ready to flex in the right direction so that come 1 October the two parts come together to make a whole.”

Accommodation options for community health services are also being considered as part of the mix to ensure easy access for clients and the local community.

Ms Randall-L’Estrange said: “We know from community feedback that people value easy access and we know we can’t deliver good community health services without it. While there is no easy answer to the question of location we are exploring options that let us be flexible about what we do and how we do it. Those discussions will evolve over time in partnership with clients and the community.”

Both CHIRP Community Health and Castlemaine Health will continue to liaise with clients, community and partners over the next few months as finer details of integration are worked through.

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