$9.3m hospital upgrade 'step on journey'

Pictured inside one of Lakes District Hospital’s two new resuscitation rooms at the official...
Pictured inside one of Lakes District Hospital’s two new resuscitation rooms at the official ceremony to mark the end of the $9.3million upgrade are (from left) Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult, Southern District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming, Health Minister David Clark, Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker and SDHB commissioner Kathy Grant. PHOTO: TRACEY ROXBURGH
The upgrade of Lakes District Hospital is complete but at its opening yesterday Southern District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming said it was "an interim step on the journey".

The two-stage upgrade, which started in October last year, came with a total price tag of $9.3million, funded by the Southern District Health Board, up from the initial $6.5million budgeted.

DHB senior communications adviser Vanessa Barratt said the additional $2.8million covered fittings, fixtures, equipment, upgrading fire systems and related project costs, such as management and consents.

The Frankton hospital now has a new emergency department, a Siemens Go Top 128 slice CT scanner, a new waiting area, triage and consulting areas, a medical students' training room, plaster bay and decontamination area and has received a "much needed" upgrade of the heating and cooling systems.

However, speaking at the official opening, Mr Fleming said while it was a "really important step", there was more to do.

"The future is ... at its core, about partnerships and all the healthcare providers and agencies and funders working together as one team."

He said Wakatipu was "a little bit like a gold rush town".

"There's wealth dripping everywhere, but underneath there is a real need and a lot of parts of the community that have a lot of challenges.

"[We are] looking across the wider area to ensure a network of care, drawing upon the strengths of our primary care providers.

"We need to look at this in terms of a wider care network."

Mr Fleming said the DHB was looking at opportunities as they arose - the most obvious being Southern Cross and the Central Lakes Trust's recent partnership with Sanderson Group, developers of Queenstown Country Club where a private hospital is planned.

He said "in the spirit of getting the balance of access to services and also [with] a strong desire to have ... a robust public health services", the DHB was looking at how it could partner with the joint-venture to enhance access to public health services.

"Charting a pathway forward requires a partnership with the community.

"We can't achieve anything unless we've got the engagement and the partnership moving forward.

"Certainly, there's more work to do to make this part of the world an even better place to live and we all need to play our part."

Health Minister David Clark acknowledged the contribution of the Central Lakes Trust, which gave $1,173,299 towards the cost of the new CT scanner, and the Lakes District Hospital Foundation for its fundraising efforts.

"It's the thing that makes those extra services available that will benefit the community.

"Funding that new CT scanner ... will help improve health outcomes for people here, make no bones about it."

Dr Clark said while Wakatipu was "one of the most beautiful places in the world" it had its own challenges, including rapid population and tourism growth and the distance to secondary and tertiary health facilities.

"We know that there will have to be future planning for the services and interaction with what's going on locally, in terms of setting up new facilities, and the public system will also have to change and grow over time for the expanding community here in Queenstown."

SDHB commissioner Kathy Grant said already there could be up to 1200 emergency department presentations a month at Lakes District Hospital, which led to about 90 transfers to secondary or tertiary hospitals and, to date, 529 CT scans had been done at the hospital.

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