Date set for start on new ICU

Construction of the new Dunedin Hospital intensive care unit will start in August, after a delay of more than a year, it has been confirmed.

The $11million facility will be completed in early 2018, Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman announced this week.

Although announced by the Government last September as part of a $22.5million package of special interim works at Dunedin Hospital and Wakari Hospital, it emerged that the final sign-off for the ICU component had been quietly withheld.

Wellington officials had wanted to work more closely with Southern District Health Board staff to plan the project, and it was claimed this could speed up the project.

The project has been in the works since at least late 2014, when the department lost its right to train specialists, partly because of the state of the facility.

Then, health board staff hoped it would get under way in the first six months of 2015.

The planned facility is a "critical care unit'' that includes two high dependency units. The HDUs are to be "co-located'' with the ICU. The unit will house eight ICU beds and 10 HDU beds. There was potential to add four extra beds over the next 10 years, Dr Coleman said.

The unit will be built on ICU's existing space, ward 5A, and the adjacent ward 5B.

The ICU service does not need to shift, as builders will start work in the ward 5B area.

Once that area is completed, ICU will shift to the 5B area, and builders will start work on the area they have vacated to complete the unit.

At present, ward 5B houses neurosurgery and some other services, but they are set to shift to the third floor in a couple of months.

The health board has previously said it will approach the College of Intensive Care Medicine to seek training re-accreditation once refurbishment gets under way.

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