Stalled Cooma dialysis unit moving at last

COMMUNITY concerns about the pace and secrecy surrounding the promised $1 million renal dialysis unit at the Cooma Hospital have been alleviated with the appointment of an architect and a promise for more regular meetings.

However, dialysis patients, some of whom have to travel to Canberra for treatment, cannot expect the Cooma facility to be available for use until at least June or July next year - more than two years after it was promised at the state election.

A spokesman for Member for Monaro John Barilaro calls this a "lightning pace" in terms of health infrastructure.

After a stop-start approach to community consultation, a timetable for future meetings with the community user committee has been set.

After the recent state government budget cuts, members of the Cooma-Monaro renal dialysis group associated with the push for the unit, feared Treasury would not release the money for the project.

The Express has tried many times to obtain details from health bureaucrats, with little response.

Numerous calls to the health department's project co-ordinator Jillian Rheinberger for a progress report on the project has not been returned.

The Express contacted the Southern NSW Local Health District (SNSWLHD) public affairs manager Peter Oliver, for an update on the project in early September and he said that "planning will recommence shortly which will further develop the existing designs for the renal unit".

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Finally the Express contacted the office of the Member for Monaro John Barilaro last week and was told that Morrison Design Partnership (MDP) have been appointed as architects and contract administrators for the Cooma Renal project.

MDP has previously worked on the Queanbeyan Renal and Goulburn Emergency Department expansion with the local health district body.

John Barilaro's office denies the project has been slow to get off the ground.

"The project certainly hasn't been held up for 18 months, the project only began 18 months ago," Mr Barilaro's spokesperson said.

"We have the funding, the preliminary design work and have signed with project administrators.

"In term of health infrastructure, that is lightning pace," the spokesperson said.

Monaro renal dialyisis group chair Dugald Mitchell said he was happy to see a timetable for more regular meetings with the user group set up to work with the health department.

"User Group meetings will commence this month as part of the design phase of the project," Mr Mitchell said.

"Tender documentation will be developed towards the end of the year with the view to going to tender early next year.

Mr Mitchell said there is no issue with the allocated funds, all has been budgeted.

"We are told that after the completion of the unit, expected by the end of June 2013, there will be need of four weeks training before patients can start to use the facility."

"I am sure that the local and regional communities will be delighted with this news."

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