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Changes to the future operation of Ballan District Health & Care services

Friday 27 August 2021

The Board of Ballan District Health & Care (BDHC) is pleased to announce that the assets and operations of BDHC will transfer to new owner, mecwacare from 1 November 2021.

Chief Executive Officer (Interim), James McComb said an agreement had been reached with mecwacare – a not-for-profit organisation – that would ensure not only the ongoing care of residents, but also the continuation of important health services for the Ballan community.

“All aged care residents are guaranteed their existing arrangements, with no cost increases, and all but a few staff members will transfer to mecwacare with their full entitlements,” Mr McComb said.

“This is a big win for the local community, as we are a major employer in Ballan.  We provide vital health and aged care services, and this agreement resolves years of financial uncertainty for the organisation.  Our staff and residents now know that there will be a strong future for our services in Ballan.”

Mr McComb said the BDHC Board had explored a range of options over the past couple of years to make the organisation more viable.

“We’ve made no secret of the fact that the organisation has experienced a situation all-too-familiar in regional towns, where the smaller scale of our operations has combined with a tougher regulatory environment to make services financially unviable.  As we believe our role in the community is highly valued, we sought expressions of interest to find another operator with the scale, experience and capital to give our services a long-term future,” he said.

These services include residential aged care, a retirement village, a GP Super Clinic, allied health services, home care packages, district nursing, a gym and hydrotherapy pool, and an opportunity shop.

These services will continue to be delivered by mecwacare, however, Board Chair Lyn Gunnell confirmed BDHC’s decision to close the organisation’s 10-bed hospital.

“While the hospital is very small compared with nearly all others in the region, this is not a decision that has been taken lightly.  Operation of small, rural private hospitals is no longer viable, with many people opting out of Private Health Insurance, economies of scale hard to achieve, and patients having easy access to Ballarat and western Melbourne hospitals.  The hospital beds will be repurposed for other healthcare services,” Ms Gunnell said.

“From a Board perspective, it was important for us to find a new operator with the scale, experience and growth potential to provide long-term certainty for our residents and staff.  In fact, residents should notice little or no change, and all residents are guaranteed continued care in line with their current arrangements.

“We also want our residents to be cared for by the same dedicated staff members they know so well, so all but a few of our 130 individual employees will be offered roles with mecwacare from 1 November,” Ms Gunnell added.  “Some of the roles at BDHC are not required by mecwacare, due to the consolidation of similar business functions.”

mecwacare, which is based in Melbourne, is a not-for-profit, non-denominational charitable organisation that provides residential, community and in-home nursing, care and support services.

Ms Gunnell said the Board felt mecwacare shared BDHC’s values by providing safe and genuine care irrespective of religious, cultural or lifestyle background.  She noted that they are an experienced organisation, with a proud 62-year history of caring for Victorians.  Their network currently includes 2,000 staff and 500 volunteers serving more than 17,000 people each week.

As part of the transfer, BDHC and mecwacare guarantee to residents and their families that:

  • Residents can remain living in their home, as their current arrangements will stay the same; and
  • There will be no additional costs for residents. There are strict Commonwealth Government guidelines in place to prevent such increases and to protect their interests, including their RAD (if applicable).

Mr McComb praised staff and volunteers for their outstanding work during the pandemic.

“Financial uncertainty for the organisation, coupled with a global pandemic, has led to particularly challenging times.  However, our staff have risen to the challenge and we’re grateful that their support and teamwork have ensured the ongoing delivery of high-quality care.

“We would also like to acknowledge the Victorian Government Department of Health (previously DHHS) and the Australian Government Department of Health for their support to BDHC during the journey to a sustainable future,” Mr McComb said.

***

Summary of key points:

  • The future of BDHC services is assured, with assets and operations transferring to new owner, mecwacare from 1 November 2021. mecwacare – a not-for-profit, charitable organisation – has a proud 62-year history of caring for Victorians, providing residential, community and in-home nursing, care and support services.
  • Residents are guaranteed their existing arrangements, and residents and clients will receive the same standard of care from the dedicated staff members they know, with all but a few of the 130 BDHC staff being offered roles with mecwacare.
  • A decision has been made by the BDHC Board to close the 10-bed hospital. While the hospital is small compared with nearly all others in the region, this is not a decision that has been taken lightly.  Operation of small rural private hospitals is no longer viable, with economies of scale hard to achieve, and patients having easy access to Ballarat and western Melbourne hospitals.  The hospital beds will be repurposed for other healthcare services.
  • This agreement with mecwacare is a big win for the local community, as it resolves years of financial uncertainty, and ensures the provision of vital health and aged care services for Ballan and the surrounding districts well into the future.

#ThanksforCaring: Aged Care Employee Day 2021

This Saturday 7 August, BDHC celebrates our aged care workforce.

Many different areas at BDHC are involved in the care of our residents, patients and clients. Thank you to our:

  • Allied health team
  • Chefs, cooks and hospitality team
  • Cleaning team
  • Doctors
  • Lifestyle and activities team
  • Maintenance team
  • Management team
  • Nurses
  • Personal care workers
  • Reception and administration teams

Let’s celebrate and honour the people who care for and support the older members of our community.

COVID Update – Services and Visitation

Monday 9 August 2021

The Victorian Premier has today announced an easing of the most recent COVID lockdown for regional Victoria, so we are able to return to our previous COVIDSafe settings.

From Tuesday 10 August 2021, the following services/activities will remain open or resume at BDHC:

  • GP Clinic face-to-face appointments
  • Melbourne Pathology services
  • Allied Health services
  • Our gym and group activities*
  • Our op shop, Opportunity on Inglis

For the Hospital and Residential Aged Care, our current visitor restrictions need to remain in place until further notice.

*Please note, the hydrotherapy pool will remain closed, due to a heating issue.

Thank you for your patience and for working together with us to keep BDHC COVID-free.

COVID Update – Services and Visitation

Tuesday 27 July 2021

The Victorian Premier has today announced an easing of the most recent COVID lockdown, so we are able to return to our previous COVIDSafe settings.

From Wednesday 28 July 2021, the following services/activities will re-open or resume at BDHC:

  • GP Clinic face-to-face appointments*
  • Melbourne Pathology services
  • Allied Health services*
  • Our gym and group activities**
  • Our op shop, Opportunity on Inglis

For the Hospital and Residential Aged Care, we’re pleased to welcome visitors back – up to two visitors from the same household, once a day, for up to two hours.

Visitors and clients must continue to complete our screening and temperature checking process, and face masks must be worn within our facility at all times.

*Please call the Clinic reception team on (03) 5366 7999 to make an appointment with your doctor or allied health practitioner.

**Please note, the hydrotherapy pool will remain closed until Monday 2 August, due to a heating issue.

Thank you for your patience and for working together with us to keep BDHC COVID-free.

COVID-19 vaccination – FAQs from clients and community

Wednesday 17 March 2021

We’ve been receiving lots of queries from clients and the local community about COVID-19 vaccination. When will local community members receive a vaccine? Will we offer COVID vaccinations at our BDHC GP Clinic? The answers to these questions, and more, are on our website here: https://www.ballanhealth.com.au/covid-19-community-update-vaccination-faqs

The answers to our two most common questions are below:

  • Ballan community vaccination – we will not have any vaccines sent to our BDHC GP Clinic for the community. The sites/clinics closest to Ballan that will be administering to the community are Springs Medical in Daylesford, a GP Respiratory Clinic in Ballarat, and a site in Melton (unnamed at this point). This is all the information we have at the current time, but we hope to provide more detailed information shortly.
  • Flu vaccination – the best way you can help prevent getting and spreading the flu is with an annual flu shot. We will advertise our annual flu vaccination dates shortly (usually around mid-April – to be confirmed).

BDHC appoints a new Acting Chief Executive Officer

Thursday 4 June 2020

The Board of Ballan District Health & Care (BDHC) is pleased to announce the appointment of James McComb to the position of Acting Chief Executive Officer.

Having worked with BDHC as Director of Finance and Information Services for over 18 months, Mr McComb understands the structure, values and complexity of the BDHC facility.

Board Chair Lyn Gunnell said James’s appointment followed a review and discussion with several strong candidates.  She said Mr McComb’s detailed knowledge of the health service and its current challenges made him the right person to lead BDHC at this time without disruption.

“As Director of Finance and Information Services, James has built successful relationships with the State and Commonwealth.  He is highly respected at all levels of government, and will continue to represent the needs of BDHC in the most positive and effective way,” Ms Gunnell said.

James is a Certified Practising Accountant and has held various senior management positions across the aged care, community services and utilities sectors.

James is committed to rural health and improving the health outcomes for Ballan and the surrounding districts.  James will continue the important work to ensure the viability of the BDHC health service, and its commitment to excellence in care, into the future.

Acting Ballan District Health & Care CEO on the move

Thursday 21 May 2020

Ballan District Health & Care (BDHC) Acting Chief Executive Officer, Rowena Clift, will head back to her roots to lead the Western Victoria Primary Health Network from June 2020.

Ms Clift took on the temporary role at BDHC in May last year, as an interim step to support the Board as it placed the health service on a path to sustainability.

Board Chair Lyn Gunnell said Ms Clift can be credited with transforming the health service and working together with staff to find new ways to deliver high quality, front-line health services needed most by the community.

“Rowena has forged wonderful working relationships with our staff, and built successful partnerships with neighbouring health services, the State and Commonwealth, all of which are critical for the future,” Ms Gunnell said.

“As Rowena steps into her new role, she leaves behind a great legacy in a short period of time.  I, along with all my colleagues at BDHC, thank Rowena for her dedication, experience, knowledge and compassion.  We wish her every success in her new role.”

Ms Clift thanked the staff, residents, patients and the people of Ballan for their support and hard work over the past 12 months.

“BDHC is fortunate to have capable, dedicated staff, exceptional clinical standards and strong relationships with the community,” Ms Clift said.

“My passion is primary care and delivering services on the ground to communities and I’m looking forward to being able to continue this important work with Western Victoria Primary Health Network.”

The process to recruit a new interim CEO has commenced, and the Board will provide a progress update in due course.

Ms Gunnell also announced that Barry Kogan from McGrath Nicol has been appointed as an advisor to the BDHC Board, providing further guidance for its work to make the health service sustainable for the future.

“We are pleased to have further experience and capability to support our plan for the future, and thank our members for their ongoing support and commitment to our growing community,” Ms Gunnell said.

Ballan District Health & Care Update

Friday 6 March 2020

Ballan Childcare Centre

The future of Ballan Childcare Centre is assured, thanks to a new owner and provider, Mrs Navjeet Kaur, Director of ANM Business Services.

This change in ownership allows the Centre to continue providing a successful service to Ballan and the surrounding districts.

Ballan District Health & Care will support clients, staff and the new owner throughout the transition to ensure continuity of quality childcare services for the local community.

How will the transition work?

Timeframe
Mrs Kaur has signed the contract of sale and the process has begun to transfer ownership away from Ballan District Health & Care (BDHC). Ballan Childcare Centre will continue to operate in the usual way, offering high quality childcare services to families of Ballan and the surrounding districts. BDHC will support all childcare staff and the buyer during the sale transition period – an 11 day period ending on 16 March 2020.

Staff
The qualified and dedicated staff are central to the warm and educational environment of Ballan Childcare Centre. It is a priority of the new owner to meet in person and support current staff during the transition period, with staff reporting to Mrs Kaur from 16 March 2020 onwards.

Services
Ballan Childcare Centre will continue to offer the same high standard of care and education within the current learning groups, including babies (4 months to 2 years), toddlers (2 to 3 years), pre-kinder (3 to 4 years) and kinder (4 to 5 years).

Opening hours
Ballan Childcare Centre is open every weekday from 6:30am to 6:00pm.

Catering
BDHC has committed to continue our catering service for the Childcare Centre for at least the next three months.

We will continue to support clients, staff and the provider throughout the transition to ensure the community continues to receive quality childcare services.

GP Clinic – Recruitment

Our GP services are central to health delivery in Ballan. It is our priority to ensure that the BDHC GP Clinic has a robust and stable workforce to service the community into the future.

We welcomed two new GPs to the Clinic in December 2019.

We are pleased to announce that we have further bolstered our doctor numbers with the addition of two more GPs in February 2020. Furthermore, we aim to increase this number as we progress into 2020.

The BDHC GP Clinic currently has five doctors on staff, including:

  • Dr Samuel Inwang
  • Dr Sonya Rutherfurd
  • Dr Simone Stanton-Castillo (Registrar)
  • Dr Tze-Jian (TJ) Tan
  • Dr May Thu (Registrar)

We will provide more updates on this positive news for our community via our website and Facebook page in the coming weeks.

At the end of January 2020, Dr Rakhi Basu and Dr Min Kim departed BDHC to pursue other opportunities.

At the same time, Dr Sonya Rutherfurd, who had been working one day a week while she relocated to Ballan, increased her hours to consult up to four days a week.

Dr Rutherfurd has a keen interest in preventative medicine, with other areas of interest including nutrition and mental health care.

GP Clinic – Opening Hours

In line with our commitment to meet the health care needs of the community, BDHC has extended its GP Clinic opening hours on Saturdays.

The GP Clinic is now open every Saturday from 9:00am to 4:00pm.

This is wonderful news for our community and illustrates our commitment to delivering contemporary, viable services where there is demand.

The weekday opening hours for the GP Clinic remain the same – 8:00am to 8:00pm.

Thank you for your feedback so far on these important updates, the majority of which has been very positive. There have also been some good questions and we wanted to answer these.

Click to download this latest BDHC Update and Frequently Asked Questions.