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Part of the community . . . Oxford Hospital has been a home-away-from-home for many over its more than 100 years, and locals do not want to lose it. PHOTO: FILE

By ROBYN BRISTOW

Canterbury Mayors want their local hospitals reopened.

They want a date, and want to see all those who were shifted from the facilities due to the pressure Covid brought to bear on operations, back in familiar surroundings.

Hurunui Mayor Marie Black says she is staunch in her resolve to see the Waikari Hospital reopen, while Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon says getting the Oxford Hospital up and running again is a priority.

Four Canterbury hospitals, including Oxford and Waikari, were temporarily closed in early March, and 23 patients and residents located to alternative facilities due to staffing concerns amid the Omicron outbreak.

The move triggered fears from the community the hospitals were facing permanent closure.

But the Canterbury District Health Board said at the time, those uplifted would be back within six weeks of the Omicron outbreak’s peak.

But with the Government cutting DHB’s, with the establishment of a national health service body from July 1, it is feared the hospitals could be in jeopardy.

Mrs Black and Mr Gordon acknowledge they have had assurances from board chair Sir John Hansen and chief executive Peter Bramley, that they will reopen, but will not be resting on their laurels.

Mrs Black says the tail of the Omicron outbreak had been longer than expected, but she wants to see the highly trained and professional people sitting in hiatus, waiting for the doors to reopen, back at work.

“These are skilled workers and need to return to work.

“They want to provide the service they are trained to do,” says Mrs Black

She says one family has had communication with the CDHB about returning their mum to the Waikari Hospital.

They were told the board anticipated the reopening of the Waikari Hospital, but no date had been put on it.

While it was concerning no date was given, it was heartening the large organisation had made contact.

“We will continue to advocate strongly to get it open and get the occupancy up,” says Mrs Black.

Mr Gordon says strong feedback from the community demonstrated the value the community placed on the Oxford Hospital, and all were keen to see it reopen.

He says fortnightly meetings had been set up with the CDHB to keep the councils briefed on progress.

This followed a video conference with the health board’s chair Sir John Hansen, and chief executive Peter Bramley.

Other key CDHB staff attended along with himself, Mrs Black and Selwyn deputy Mayor Malcolm Lyall who was concerned about the futures of the Ellesmere and Darfield Hospitals.

“We asked that the Friends of our Hospitals join the fortnightly briefings to keep them informed,” says Mr Gordon. “Friends of Oxford Hospital have been in existence for over 100 years, and are critical to the success of our rural hospital.”