I have just come from a meeting regarding the insolvency of Murchison Community Care (MCC) which runs the DP Jones Nursing home in Murchison and owns the building which houses the Neighbourhood House, Medical Clinic and pharmacy.
Almost 350 people packed the hall to hear of the imminent closure of the 40-bed nursing home, and the elderly family members and loved ones of people who will now have to find somewhere else to live; but will never call home. For most of the residents, Murchison and the surrounding area has been their home for all of their lives, and some, their parents, grandparents, their children and grandchildren’s lives as well.
We heard of the heartbreak of the staff that have been there for up to 15 and more years, trying to find new homes for the residents who have become part of their families. They spoke of the hurt and confusion of the residents on being told they have to move, with one elderly gentleman stating he was going to have a ‘sit in’ and ‘tie himself to the rails’, such was his distress.
With the closure, 70 staff members will lose their job, by far the town’s largest employer. In a small town of just over 900 people (obviously not all working age!) that will be devastating for the town.
To make matters worse for Murchison, the building that the Neighbourhood House, Pharmacy and Medical Clinic all operate from are owned by MCC and will have to be sold off to pay the debts. There is no other building available for them to go into. The Hairdressers, Pre-loved shop, Community newspaper, Men’s Shed, Maternal Child Health Nurse, and so many other community support groups, which are run out of the neighbourhood house, will all be gone. Cutting off Murchison’s community support and losing even more jobs.
And with the medical centre also gone, it leaves Murchison and district with no access to local Doctors, Nurses or Allied Health specialists whom visit. The clinic employed 5 doctors, plus nurses, reception staff, admin, with the Pharmacy employing still more.
The flow on effect is too devastating to contemplate. With the loss of all these jobs and the loss of the community services and supports, how long before people leave? Taking their children out of the school, and no longer utilising the businesses? How long before the town itself closes?
And all for a miserly few million dollars! Surely the Federal and State Governments and the Greater Shepparton City Council can all step up and between them come up with a package to illustrate that they actually do care about small towns and the people that live in them. It seems when needed they can always find money for projects in the cities.