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Staff had been eagerly awaiting the move from their present cramped quarters to the new $14.8 million facility, which was intended to start receiving patients this week.
However, late last week last-minute checks uncovered issues with the unit’s isolation room and plans to begin commissioning the unit were put on hold.
"We have struck a technical issue and while we are not yet exactly sure how long it will take to resolve, we are expecting this to be a matter of weeks," SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming said.
"However, the Christmas period does add some complications in terms of engaging contractors to address this."
The issue came to light when technicians were testing air pressure in the unit’s isolation room.
While deeply disappointed to delay the opening of the unit, the SDHB said it was best to delay using the new unit in the interests of patient, staff and family safety.
"We note that in normal circumstances a three month handover period would be expected in commissioning a unit of this sort, to resolve any issues that could arise," Mr Fleming said.
"We were wanting to make use of the unit as soon as possible, and worked hard to prepare for this, but unfortunately this situation has now arisen that we need to work through."
The new unit was stage 1 of a two-part redevelopment, with 12 intensive care and high dependency beds.
Stage 2 of the redevelopment, with an extra 10 beds, is expected to open in mid-2019.