The decision made by Council in January to terminate the lease of the Kruger Medical Centre operator was not an easy one to make.
We were aware that it had the potential to leave the town without doctors which has a huge economic and social impact, however the situation had reached a point where we couldn’t allow it to continue as it was any longer.
Dr Islam’s company – Geetanjali was offered a new lease with terms that were more than favourable but none the less reflected the expectations of the community around services delivery to patients. The price was increased to reflect the cost to Council of owning the building. Whilst it is very important to have doctors, it is equally important that Council earn sufficient income to be able to maintain the assets.
After many months, we were unable to get Dr Islam to sign the new lease. The situation came to a head just prior to Christmas when four of the doctors departed the Medical Centre, allegedly following disputes with the operator. Harden was left with only one doctor and effectively no VMO services to the Hospital which is critical. As many would be aware, patients in Harden Hospital were constantly getting transferred to other hospitals whenever VMO services were not available which poses a huge risk to the patient’s health.
Without a long-term lease in place and no prospect of a resolution to the stand-off, councillors resolved to request the existing operator to vacate the building and at the same time expedite a tender process to find a new operator.
I am confident that we took the correct decision albeit a difficult one. The easiest option is to make no decision at all but invariably it leads to a poorer outcome.
Staff and councillors have been focussed on getting the medical centre up and running again and hopefully that will be achieved in the very near future.
– Tony Flanery
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