SDHB waits on $20m to keep buildings going

Photo: ODT files
Photo: ODT files
Health officials are awaiting confirmation of a $20 million capital injection for the Southern District Health Board to ensure deteriorating Dunedin Hospital buildings are functional until they’re replaced.

The Ministry of Health’s national investment committee is considering the SDHB’s business case for the sum.

SDHB facilities and property general manager Paul Pugh said the capital expenditure investment was related to expenses to maintain Dunedin Hospital’s core services and facilities.

"This is an ageing building, and while the new Dunedin Hospital project is under way, a level of investment is required to maintain the facility and ensure key infrastructure is functional and effective for patients and staff."

The current hospital buildings, particularly the ward block, have a plethora of problems, which health officials have said would cost more to fix than the $1.4 billion budgeted to build the new Dunedin Hospital.

Those issues include seismic strength - hospitals are required to meet high standards so they can function immediately after a major earthquake.

Hospital buildings are also affected by asbestos issues, exterior concrete spalling, leaking pipes, limited ceiling heights and poor layout.

Seven major projects have been costed out to enable the hospital to maintain business as normal until the new facility opens in 2028.

The largest, at $6 million, covers maintenance of the internal fabric of the buildings, project and design manager Mike Hayward said.

Repair and replacement of steam pipes will cost $4 million, while seismic upgrades account for a further $3.3 million.

Other big-ticket items are repairs to building exteriors ($1.4 million), repair and replacement of heater water pipes ($1 million), maintaining heating, ventilation and air conditioning ($800,000) and electrical work ($700,000).

The new hospital complex will have two main buildings, an acute services building and a day surgery and outpatients building.

In December 2018, the Government announced that the day surgery building would be accelerated and completed first, allowing better management of construction workers.

Last week Southern DHB chairman Dave Cull told Parliament’s health select committee that decisions on what services would go into the day surgery building were in part being made based on how long those services could continue to function in the current hospital buildings.

"One of the variables is to what extent we build some of the facilities that are rapidly deteriorating in the current hospital earlier, and that will have impacts both on the capital cost but also on our operating costs.

"It’s quite a complex equation, but that is certainly one of the issues."

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