Pioneering Karratha medical centre forced to close

Alicia PereraPilbara News
The front of the Pilbara Medical Centre building on Warambie Road.
Camera IconThe front of the Pilbara Medical Centre building on Warambie Road. Credit: Pilbara News, Alicia Perera

A state-of-the-art medical centre planned to revolutionise healthcare in Karratha has closed suddenly after the Aboriginal corporation funding it defaulted on mortgage payments.

Staff at the Pilbara Medical Centre on Warambie Road were given a week to leave the premises last Monday after the bank issued a breach notice against Yinhawangka Aboriginal Corporation and ordered the clinic to stop trading.

It comes after the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations this month issued YAC with a notice to “show cause” as to why it should not be put into special administration, after an examination of its books earlier this year.

The Paraburdoo-based corporation failed to make the first instalment payment on the building by deadline.

Pilbara Medical Centre, which opened in February, contained $400,000 worth of medical equipment including an advanced audiology suite and telehealth and was set to roll out much more in coming months, including an X-ray machine, renal dialysis facilities, pathology services and an in-house pharmacy.

Staff had also received in-principle support for the centre to become the site of what would be the Pilbara’s only MRI machine.

It employed four staff, most of whom were locals, and had plans to employ up to seven GPs in time.

The plan for the centre was the brainchild of local GP Dr Martin Kumar, who has long been an advocate for getting more medical imaging facilities in the region.

He said it was “tragic” the clinic had been forced to close and at such short notice.

“People can’t just pick up a business and drop it, especially one with a social responsibility,” he said.

“It can be devastating because it impacts people’s lives.”

Pilbara Medical Centre general manager Muhammad Saeed said the centre had been seeing an average of 20-30 patients a day, especially from Roebourne, Wickham and Dampier where Dr Kumar previously worked.

He said it had provided a third main GP clinic for the Karratha community, along with Karratha Medical Centre and Sonic HealthPlus, and its closure was a disappointment for the community.

“This was a good opportunity because the City is growing and people can’t get appointments, but unfortunately it has had to close,” he said.

“I wish there was a third medical centre here because from the feedback we’ve had, people really need it.”

The sudden closure of the centre will also affect patients’ ability to receive medical records and test results, which staff have been in contact about.

A spokesman for the YAC board confirmed the centre had been closed but declined to comment further.

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