WORK will soon start on the development of a masterplan that will position Bendigo Community Health Services to meet the needs of the future.

The masterplan is being developed alongside an initial project to renovate and refurbish the organisation’s Eaglehawk site.

Following a $7.3 million cash injection through the Victorian Government’s Regional Health Infrastructure Fund, EBD Architects is working with BCHS in the early planning stages of a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility that will better meet the needs of the Eaglehawk community into the future.

Eaglehawk is the primary BCHS hub for Primary Healthcare and Allied Health Services.

The original building has had few modifications since the original build was completed in 1976.

EBD Architects will consult with community and BCHS to assess the existing conditions of the site, identify capital works required to upgrade the facility to current standards and assist with long-term capital planning for the expanding service.

However, the overall masterplan project will also include a review of all five of the current BCHS sites, and explore where the service may need to expand or have a presence in the future.

EBD Architects director Dr Darragh O’Brien says the evidence-based design company aims to capture a broad picture of what is wanted and needed across Bendigo.

“We see the Eaglehawk site as a much more open facility - and the other facilities as well, they will become a more integrated part of every community,” he said.

“The great thing about this project is not just to look at this building but to look at the network of community health facilities across the Bendigo area, where they become an intrinsic and very significant part of each community and connect communities together.

“These sorts of buildings have a much larger role to play in the future than they have in the past.

“Previously they were specifically places you went to when you were unwell, and they’re becoming more and more important as centres of education, for health and wellbeing before you become ill.”

Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards says BCHS plays an important role in the community, which has been highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“BCHS services have been more important throughout the last couple of years throughout Covid, assisting with immunisations, assisting people with home care and being an outreach service for other communities,” she said.

“I can’t wait to see what the architects come up with in terms of the design of the new building – it will be more space, it will be better technology, it will mean we can attract GPs to this part of world and means that the people of Eaglehawk and the community will have access to a world-class service in a world-class building.

“Importantly, the masterplan is about looking across the whole of Bendigo and looking at what is required in terms of community health services – we know there’s a need there, what is the extent of that need and what do services need to look like, what do the buildings need to look like to accommodate that need?

“We want to make sure people have access to a service such as Bendigo Community Health Services that are so vital not just to ongoing health but also around prevention.”

BCHS Board Chair Vicki Pearce says the pandemic has taught us people want and need access to health and wellbeing services where they live and move about.

“We’re excited about what we can offer the community moving forward,” she said.

Bendigo Community Health Services delivers more than 50 programs across the region, which help people live healthier lives.

This includes access to GPs, along with services covering families and children, mental health and counselling, alcohol and other drugs, sexual health, men's and women's health clinics, the LGBTIQ community and refugee settlement.

 BCHS also helps people manage specific health needs, such as podiatry and living with chronic conditions such as diabetes, respiratory or heart disease.