SDHB struggling to finish ICU project

Chris Fleming. Photo: ODT files
Chris Fleming
The Southern District Health Board has no idea when the second stage of its multimillion-dollar intensive care unit development will be able to receive patients.

Due to have opened last December, the 10-bed ward was the second part of a much needed $14.8million revamp of the cramped and outdated rooms used by the hospital’s most critically ill patients.

Engineers brought in to solve problems with ventilation systems have been unable to pinpoint the cause of the problem, SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming said.

"Frustratingly the latest mechanical engineers’ report has not provided us with a definitive design and therefore a pathway to completion."

This is not the first setback the development, which is regarded as a key building project, has endured: similar issues delayed the opening of stage one for four months.

Mr Fleming said the SDHB would take a similar approach to dealing with the issue as it had with stage one: weekly meetings with its contractors.

"This time it will be mechanical engineers, [to] nut out every aspect required to get to a final solution."

The isolation rooms in the new ward are meant to have their air changed 14 times an hour.

However, the old ventilation systems in the building have proven inadequate for the task, partly because a previous board decided 20 years ago to detune the system as a cost-saving measure.

The SDHB previously hoped the 12 extra beds might be ready by the end of this year, but a report by Mr Fleming to the SDHB board gave no indication when things might be resolved.

Stage one, with 12 intensive care and high-dependency beds, eventually opened in March last year.

Large, bright and modern, it had been welcomed by staff, who were eagerly anticipating the opening of stage 2.


Perhaps the Hackett $10million could be gifted to help resolve this problem or even to build a similar or just to ensure the ventilations systems do not get detuned again, in order to save money and get this 10bed ICU able to receive patients. Perhaps, this hospital or this development, is not considered a strategic asset by the government.

Thank goodness we didn’t need it with the pandemic.
Just goes to show a complete lockdown and elimination of the virus was the only option to the government.
Anything less would have shown everyone how bad the DHB system is.



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