Work on hospital upgrade expected to begin in next few weeks

An upgrade of Balclutha's hospital is due to begin in the next few weeks pending final approval from the Clutha District Council.

Clutha Health Incorporated chairwoman Irene Mosley said she expected the final approval paperwork to come through "any day now" and understood the council had been waiting on confirmation from the New Zealand Transport Agency regarding any potential disruptions to the traffic flow once the upgrade is under way.

The cost of the upgrade is estimated at between $1.8 million and $2.2 million.

Clutha Health First is the Balclutha-based hospital and health centre operated by a locally owned trust, Clutha Community Health Company Ltd, and leases the building from Clutha Health Incorporated.

The Clutha hospital serves 17,000, with patients coming from as far away as Lawrence, Tuapeka and Tapanui.

The existing Balclutha hospital opened on December 1, 1998, signalling the end of a battle to retain health services in the town.

The town's former hospital was closed and replaced with a new, purpose-built facility in central Balclutha.

Mervyn Jones, spokesman for Clutha Health Incorporated, said key developments included an extension to the current general practitioner facilities to allow for extra consultation rooms, one main entrance and waiting area and easier access to GP, lab, and X-ray services, outpatient consultants, and the inpatient ward.

The physiotherapy department would be relocated to the Clyde St entrance and a new accident treatment area created in the former physiotherapy space.

Dunedin-based company Cook Brothers Construction has been named as the upgrade's lead contractor.

The project is expected to take about 12 months to complete, and would be carried out in stages in order to keep the health centre operational.

Mr Jones said the Clutha Health Incorporated board was pleased to be able to fund the upgrades for the community and hoped Clutha Health First would keep the public advised of the various stages as they occurred to minimise disruption for the community.



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