Critical care work ongoing

Dunedin Hospital’s new $14.8 million critical care facility remains closed almost two months after it was due to open to patients.

However, the Southern District Health Board hopes issues in the new ward have almost been fixed.

A series of frustrating delays has meant the facility is yet to be commissioned, despite having had public tours in November and an official opening ceremony soon after.

The issues raised patient safety concerns, which meant the SDHB decided not to put the 12-bed facility — the first part of a two-phase redevelopment of ICU and the high dependency department — into use until the problems were resolved.

Late last month, the SDHB revealed that the unit’s isolation room — which was meant to be hermetically sealed — would need to be relined and fitted with new doors.

SDHB specialist services director Patrick Ng said good progress was being made in addressing the issues.

"Following additional work to improve the airtightness of the rooms, we are now achieving leak rates that are close to what is required.

"Work is continuing to improve this further."

Work had been delayed by the holiday period.

However, the DHB was pleased with what had been achieved to date and remained hopeful of a prompt resolution, Mr Ng said.

Non-clinical spaces, such as offices, in the new development are being used.

Clinicians — who had been desperately looking forward to using the new ward — are still treating patients in the cramped intensive care unit.

Stage two of the redevelopment, which includes an extra 10 beds, was expected to open in mid-2019, and it is unclear whether that date has been affected. The SDHB commissioned an independent engineering assessment of stage 1, and has said future decisions on the project would be guided by it.

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