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Stage 1 of the new facility, which will have 12 beds, will officially be opened on Monday, while stage 2 with 10 extra bed spaces is expected to open mid-2019.
Southern District Health Board intensive care clinical director Craig Carr said
that while the new ICU was filled with some of the most modern medical technology available, it had also been designed with patient and staff welfare in mind.
New additions such as access to natural light, private rooms, lighting that could be dimmed and thick acoustic ceiling tiles were just some of the areas where patient welfare had been incorporated into the design, Dr Carr said.
It was all aimed at improving comfort, privacy and welfare, he said.
Even something as simple as a whiteboard, installed in each room, would allow staff and patients to communicate much more effectively.
"It's all these little small things that you wouldn't normally think about which make a huge difference to patient welfare and their recovery."
New technology not used anywhere else in New Zealand included dual touch-screen patient monitors, which would allow ICU staff to monitor patients in other rooms while still treating the person in front of them.
Staff had been involved in every aspect of the design and the new unit had improved sight-lines, a better flow of equipment and more efficient use of space.
A new non-clinical space was also included for staff hand-overs, education, office space and, most importantly, breaks.
"It's great for confidentiality but more importantly it's really good for giving staff some down time, which in a stressful environment can be a welcome relief for 15 minutes."
It was difficult to know how much of the design would be replicated when the new hospital was built but hopefully it would at least help guide the new ICU, Dr Carr said.
It would take some time for the new equipment to be fully set up, so it would be at least a few weeks before the first new patient was admitted.
The public can view the new unit during an open day tomorrow between 10am and 2pm.