In today's 'Star' - the local freebie newspaper (actually one of the two freebies) - there's a front page article about Dr John Arnold and his plans to open a Health Centre in the main street before Christmas.
So what, you say? Well, the difference with this health centre is that services will be free to any and all patients. John is concerned that there are a lot of people slipping under the radar in terms of health care, and he's hoping that by providing free care, more people will be able to have access to health advice and services.
And what's that got to do with me? Well, John and I have been getting together nearly every week for several years, since I first met him and took him through a discipleship course after he became a Christian. When the course was complete we decided that it would be good to keep getting together, and so we have.
We began with hour-long morning teas out in South Dunedin (where John's 'other' practice is), in an old-fashioned cafe where the windows used to steam up in the winter. For a longish patch - when I still worked at the bookshop - we had a morning get-together at Cafe Rue, in Moray Place. And since I've been working for the Presbyterians we've met for lunch at the Orange Cafe - also in Moray Place, but in another part of it.
And the result has been that I've been witness to John's long journey to get this free health clinic idea off the ground. And it's been quite some journey, particularly this year when John took a deep breath, began to work only part time at his usual practice, and spent many hours a week looking for premises and getting people involved and finding additional funding and everything else that was needed. The premises have been in hand for a couple of months, but of course there have been the usual delays from those in the world of bureaucracy.
One of the nice side benefits of opening up the Servants Health Centre in the main street is that it's just along the road from where I work, so getting together for lunch will probably be even easier than it has been in the past.