Hospital grounds to have free care

Fulton Hogan Central open space manager Steve O'Kane (left) and project manager Trevor Washington...
Fulton Hogan Central open space manager Steve O'Kane (left) and project manager Trevor Washington join Dunstan Hospital's administration and facilities manager Maree Leitch in the hospital grounds yesterday. Photo by Lynda van Kempen.
They may be unlikely fairy godmothers, but Dunstan Hospital is not complaining.

Fulton Hogan Central staff have come to the rescue of the hospital.

Terminating its grounds maintenance contract was one of the cost cutting measures taken by Central Otago Health Services Ltd (COHSL), which runs the hospital, when its budget was pruned by 2% in June by the Southern District Health Board.

COHSL manager Karyn Penno said the priority was to maintain the hospital's outpatient services and ward capacity but stopping the grounds contract was ''a bit of a blow''.

''Not only have the gardens largely been developed and planted with the assistance of local service groups since the [hospital] rebuild in 2005, they are also a welcome distraction and an important part of patient recovery,'' Ms Penno said.

''We constantly get comments from patients and visitors on the wonderful outlook and it is important to us that we keep the grounds at the same high standard.''

So it was a welcome surprise to have the regional manager for Fulton Hogan Central, Alan Peacock, offer to cover all the grounds maintenance free of charge for the next 12 months, she said.

''It's humbling to live and work in a community where local business and people offer to their local hospital their time and money to ensure that we continue to offer the same level of service and where possible, enhance the services to the community,'' Ms Penno said.

Mr Peacock said he made the offer after reading about the hospital's critical funding situation.

''Fulton Hogan likes to support things that support the community and the hospital is critical to everyone. We thought we could support it in a way that could keep it running and give something back to the community at the same time.

''It's not something we'd have done if we were taking work away from any other provider but the hospital had withdrawn from its grounds contract.''

He declined to be drawn on the value of Fulton Hogan's gesture but said it represented a ''significant'' saving for the hospital.

''Our aim is the keep the hospital grounds and car parks looking smart and tidy.''

 There are about 100 rose bushes in gardens around the hospital and COHSL hopes individuals or a service group might offer to look after them.

This would include pruning and general maintenance for the next year. Anyone interested can contact Maree Leitch at the hospital.



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