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Northe calls for Gippsland hospice care facility in Latrobe Valley and proposed Hazelwood House in Churchill

Message from Mr Russell Northe MP to Gippsland Hospice Family to advocate for the consideration of a dedicated hospice for the region.

By news@gippsland - 23rd July 2021 - Back to News

Gippsland Hospice Facility, I wish you and your team well during what I know is a busy and hectic time for you. However I did wish to write to you again on a matter that not only am I passionate about but many members of my community are as well and that is the concept of a dedicated hospice for our region.

Hazelwood House has a strong connection with the Churchill Community and is much loved, Benetas has not made a decision on the future use of Hazelwood House and is open to discussing options

Hazelwood House has a strong connection with the Churchill Community and is much loved, Benetas has not made a decision on the future use of Hazelwood House and is open to discussing options

Recommendations for action

I appreciate your previous reply to me on similar matters and whereby you indicated some work that Latrobe Regional Hospital is undertaking to provide more beds in a more appropriate setting for those receiving palliative care. It's fair to say that many still feel there are and will be gaps in the palliative care system unless a hospice is considered as part of the overall palliative care solution.

I draw your attention to the Latrobe Health Advocate and her report in September 2019 titled; Achieving Victoria's best end of life experience for people in Latrobe. As you may be aware this report included five areas for reform and twelve recommendations for action. The number one recommendation contained within this same report was as follows: A hospice as a place of choice for people in Latrobe.

Suitable location for hospices

Subsequently the Latrobe Health Advocate in May 2020 released her progress report to which I have attached for your reference. As you will note there are a number of observations noted and questions asked in relation to recommendation 1.

Given another 12 months has elapsed since this time I would argue that little or no progress has been made with respect to this important recommendation despite best endeavours by many including the Health Advocate herself. In this same context I point you to a motion as moved, adopted and supported by Latrobe City Council (see attachment) on 25 October 2019 that says;

That Council writes to the Minister for Health, the Hon Jenny Mikakos MLC, requesting that she work with Latrobe City Council to ascertain the suitable location for one or more hospices in the Latrobe City Council Local Government Area and then provides the funding for the construction to occur as soon as possible. At the time of writing I'm uncertain if the former Minister had ever written to Council on same.

Dedicated hospice for the region

The main purpose of me writing today is to once again advocate for the consideration of a dedicated hospice for our region and to inform yourself as Health Minister and the State Government of what I believe is a unique opportunity. As you will note from the Latrobe Health Advocate's report and from the motion from Latrobe City Council that our community and region want the option of a dedicated hospice to be explored.

At the same time as this is being called for, a building and site is available in the township of Churchill that could be easily utilised or transitioned for such purposes. Up until quite recently Hazelwood House was operated by Benetas as an aged care 38 bed facility; and now this same facility is currently being advertised for sale through an expression of interest process. Please see attachment enclosed for further information.

Suitable and viable to operate

Surely with this facility available the State Government could at the very least consider exploring if a hospice is suitable and viable to operate out of this site. The Churchill community itself is very keen for health related services to remain on this site, given it was actually the Churchill community who raised the necessary funds to build Hazelwood House in the first instance.

It would be just a deplorable situation and so very sad to think this building might be demolished into the future when it could well be utilised for a dedicated hospice. We already have the land, the building and the community support in place. This is a win/win/win scenario and we just need some will from the State Government to further investigate this incredible opportunity.

Matters to consider

I would also request that contact be made with public and privately run hospice's to understand what level of interest there is from those already operating hospice's in either Victoria or other jurisdictions. I would think that the potential availability of Hazelwood House is an attractor for those in the sector in addition to the strong desire from our local community to have a hospice established.

In closing, I thank you Minister for your consideration of these very important matters. You will note that the EOI process for Hazelwood House concludes on 25 June, 2021 and therefore I hope interactions and exploration of options can be undertaken prior to this time. If any further information is required on these same matters please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

For more information, please download the Latrobe Health advocate.

Pictures from Benetas Facebook page.


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