Story by Karla Akuhata as published in the Whakatane Beacon, Front Page, 11 July 2017
In a statement to staff, the owners of the two medical centres, Green Cross Health, confirmed it was in negotiations with the Whakatane social services provider.
“Green Cross Health Medical Limited wishes to confirm that it is in advanced negotiations with the Eastern Bay of Plenty Medical Group, a subsidiary of Te Puna Ora o Mataatua Charitable Trust, for an investment in [The Doctors Phoenix] and [The Doctors Kopeopeo] in Whakatane,” the statement read.
“Negotiations are still ongoing and any announcements will be made in due course.”
The Doctors Phoenix, located on Pyne Street in the Phoenix House building, is served by seven doctors and a team of nurses. Last month The Doctors Kopeopeo moved back into its premises at 11 James Street, after water damage to the building forced the clinic to temporarily work out of Total Health Doctors on the Strand. The centre has six doctors and a practice nurse team.
Te Puna Ora o Mataatua chief executive Chris Tooley said he was unable to comment on the situation while negotiations were ongoing. However, the Beacon understands the social service provider has set up a subsidiary company to manage its health interests and, if the purchase goes ahead, Te Puna Ora o Mataatua will become the largest medical provider in the Eastern Bay and the largest Maori medical provider in the Bay of Plenty.
In February, Te Puna Ora o Mataatua chairwoman Fiona Wiremu confirmed the organisation had purchased 50 percent of the shares in Med Central to form a partnership with its owners, Poutiri Trust.
At the time, she said the purchase advanced Te Puna Ora o Mataatua’s desire to establish an integrated health model, where they could provide the “wrap-around services” to their clients.
She said the practice had one general practitioner and several nurses but in time they would look to grow the service.
A month earlier, Te Puna Ora o Mataatua had also purchased a large complex in the centre of Kopeopeo with the aim of developing a “one-stop health hub.”
The complex contained the Country Roast, a vacant shop, the Fresh ‘n’ Grocer, G & R Soft Furnishings and Kope Barbers on King Street. At the rear of the property are several offices, some of which are vacant, and a car park.
Te Puna Ora o Mataatua is in the process of designing the Kopeopeo site. Meanwhile, this Friday the organisation will host a Matariki dinner to celebrate and launch a “fresh new look for Te Puna Ora o Mataatua”.
The evening, to be held at Te Manuka Tutahi in Whakatane, will include performances from the Opotiki Mai Tawhiti kapa haka group and Whakatane-based singer Maisey Rika.