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New leader at helm of CO Health Services

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The Central App

27 March 2024, 4:00 PM

New leader at helm of CO Health ServicesRichard Thomson (left) is stepping into the role of Central Otago Health Services Ltd chair, a position held by Allan Kane (right) for the past 10 years. PHOTO: The Central App

Allan Kane is stepping down as Central Otago Health Services Ltd chair, marking the end of a challenging and rewarding era.

He joined the board 12 years ago, serving 10 of them as chair.

As he prepares to step down, Allan said he looks back at his time fondly, knowing how valuable the organisation is to the many people it serves.

Because of Central Otago Health Services Ltd, Dunstan Hospital still exists, after having been in the firing line of potential closures across the country in the 1990s.

It was decided if the community could find a way to undertake ownership of the hospital it could continue to offer a range of services.

Incoming Central Otago Health Services Ltd chair Richard Thomson. PHOTO: Supplied

Central Otago Health Inc was formed and the rest is history.

Allan said while there had been numerous highlights during his time as chair, one in particular stood out.

“Just to have continued to maintain a high level of compassionate care that Dunstan has always been known for,” he said.

He said the arrival of Covid-19 and the following four years had been among the most challenging aspects.

“I think the team has responded significantly as an organisation. I think we can be very proud of how we maintained services over that difficult period.”

Allan, a farmer, is happy to be stepping down knowing the service is in good hands, which now includes Richard Thomson at the helm.

Outgoing Central Otago Health Services Ltd chair Allan Kane. PHOTO: Supplied

While it will generally be business as usual, Richard hoped the coming years would see even more valuable services offered at the hospital.

He said that meant bringing more specialists to the district from Dunedin for regular appointments.

Dunstan Hospital has specialists visiting most days of the week from Dunedin Hospital, with some making the trip with Mainland Air so they can provide longer clinics.

Those frequent flyers often include specialists from medical oncology, obstetrics and gynaecology, elderly health and general surgery.

Richard said many other specialities could be added to that list.

The visits mean fewer patients need to drive to Dunedin for their appointments, which takes time and costs money.

“I think health is made up of a lot of different pieces ... we need to look outside of our own patch to see how we can facilitate more services closer to home in our region,” Richard said.

A CT scanner, which was funded largely by the Central Otago community, also means people don’t need to go to Dunedin for diagnostic services.

A patient transfer vehicle valued at $180,000 is also on order for the district, which is funded significantly by community donations.

Richard (who has a background in psychology, but now owns a retail business) hoped more donations would be made so further services and equipment could be funded.

Overall, he was looking forward to his new role and working alongside a team of invaluable people.

“It is the staff here that makes this hospital and health services association ... what they are, and we are incredibly fortunate with the quality of staff we have here.”