Country Health Shadow Minister Emma Kealy visited Cobram on Friday to get an update on the amalgamation between Cobram, Numurkah and Nathalia health services.
Communication and consultation with staff and members of the community took place between November and March, with feedback ‘‘overwhelmingly positive’’, according to interim Cobram District Health chief executive officer Jacque Phillips.
Member for Ovens Valley Tim McCurdy said it was important for Ms Kealy to get a first-hand look at the hospital and its different departments, as well as getting an update on how the merger was tracking.
‘‘The visit was really just about staying up-to-date with the merger and the message we have received from Jacque is that she’s very comfortable with where it is at and the staff are in the same boat,’’ Mr McCurdy said.
‘‘At the moment no big decisions have been made, but a master plan will be looked at down the track to put in place a long-term strategic direction.’’
Mr McCurdy said the hospital would need work and money spent on it, with some parts outdated and some components brand new, such as the community rehabilitation centre.
Ms Kealy said it had been promising to see the way the merger between the three health services had positively impacted each one.
‘‘In the last 12 months we’ve seen an increase in the use of the services and have seen improvements made, particularly in the mental health space,’’ she said.
Ms Kealy, who has known Mrs Phillips for a number of years through her work, said she was pleased with how the amalgamation had been taking shape.
‘‘It’s fantastic to see Jacque not go down the path of using a centralised system, which often happens in merger situations, because local residents don’t benefit from that approach,’’ Ms Kealy said.
‘‘It is vitally important that small-town hospitals maintain their own strengths and services while also trying to enhance them and that is exactly what Jacque is doing in her role here.’’