Health service aims to repurpose nursing home

The former nursing home at Mardi

Yerin Eleanor Duncan Aboriginal Health Services has lodged a development application with Central Coast Council to transform a vacant nursing home at Mardi into a community health centre.

Japara Healthcare closed the aged care facility at 35 McPherson Rd in August 2020, citing the building’s design limitations and operational challenges.

In July 2021 Yerin announced it had purchased the property.

Yerin plans to repurpose the former 75-bed aged care facility to provide a culturally appropriate health and wellbeing centre for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The range of community services run by Yerin currently spreads over six separate sites in Wyong and the proposal will bring together those services into one building.

The site on Wyong River

Change of use from nursing home to community health centre will involve alterations and additions but the existing floor area and height of the building will remain unchanged.

A new 95-space car park, using low-impact ecoraster grids, will be built at the front of the site.

The new community centre will operate weekdays between 9am and 5pm including Yerin’s Aboriginal Health Service and visiting health care providers including Aboriginal health practitioners, psychologists, midwife and early childhood nurses, allied health specialists and GP services.

Yerin’s dental health service will remain in the Wyong centre.

Council has raised concerns over the site being classified “high hazard” in a flood prone area, however, the development application includes “robust flood management procedures”.

The Flood Risk Assessment Report and Flood Emergency Response Plan (FERP) provided with the DA says that as the community centre would operate only during business hours it was a significant risk improvement, compared to the previous 24/7 residential aged care accommodation.

The DA said the proposed community facility could operate with flood monitoring and evacuation procedures in place, while providing beneficial services to the community.

Yerin has requested that Council waive the s7.12 development contributions, given that the organisation is re-purposing a vacant building, providing a community health service and relies heavily on grants and donations to build the project and continue operations in the long term.

The development application 1276/2021 is on public exhibition for submissions until November 5.

Sue Murray