Thursday, 04 June 2020


So what happens now

So what happens now

Last Sunday 4 May, the Whitianga Lions’ Project Committee handed a cheque of $230,000 to the Mercury Bay Community Radiology and Health Trust (Trust), which will own and operate the Mercury Bay X-ray machine. The Informer spoke to Malcolm Brown and Chris Rendle, both members of the Lions’ Project Committee and trustees of the Trust, about the work that has been done to date regarding the machine and what the community can expect going forward.

The most exciting bit of news is probably that the trustees of the Trust will be meeting with a representative of Carestream Health in Whitianga on Thursday 8 May to order the machine.

"The X-ray machine will, through the Trust, be wholly owned by the community and will be available to all doctors. The cost of the X-rays the machine will take will typically be covered by the Waikato District Health Board or ACC," said Malcolm.

The Lions have also finalised where the machine will go - in the Health Factory on the corner of Coghill and Isabella Streets, Whitianga. "The Coghill Street location was chosen because of the concrete floor of the premises, the availability of three phase power and the relatively inexpensive cost of the internal fit-out of the premises," explained Malcolm. "We looked at a number of other sites, but all were unsuitable - either for access, parking or construction reasons. As the X-rays are taken by a radiographer who will be employed by or contracted to the Trust, we chose a location that is very close to all the doctors’ surgeries in Whitianga and easily accessible to St John Ambulance."

The design of the premises has been completed and submitted to Thames Coromandel District Council for resource and building consents. Tenders for construction are due by Monday 12 May and building work should commence no later than 1 June. Chris and Malcolm are hopeful that the machine will be up and running by September.

It is expected that both Whitianga medical practices and possibly doctors from neighbouring areas will support the machine. "From a practical perspective, we understand a patient’s doctor will request the DHB, or ACC in case of an accident, to have an X-ray taken," said Malcolm. "The DHB or ACC will then send their approval through to the Trust’s radiographer, who will take the X-ray. A digital image of the X-ray will then be sent to a firm of radiologists who will let the doctor who ordered the X-ray know what their findings are. The patient’s doctor will thereafter decide what the next step is. If it involves specialist treatment, travel to Thames or Waikato Hospitals may still be necessary."

Apart from ordering the machine, on the Trust’s to-do list for the next few months are finalising agreements with the DHB, ACC and the firm of radiologists who will read the X-rays, advertising for and interviewing radiographers, overseeing the fit-out of the premises where the machine will go and updating the local doctors on progress.

Mike Brown, another Whitianga Lion who assumed the role of project engineer on request from the Lions’ Project Committee, will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the fit-out work that needs to be done to get the machine operational.


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