August 22, 2008

Bigger, Faster Hospital Facelift?

By AKOORIE, Natalie

The $278 million redevelopment of Waikato and Thames hospitals could happen much quicker - and on a bigger scale - than earlier flagged. Waikato District Health Board is just weeks away from deciding whether to overhaul the remaining stages of the redevelopment, according to chief executive Craig Climo.

The current upgrades of both hospitals, which includes major construction work, is set to be finished by 2012 but it would not include a $130 million upgrade of wards.

This is scheduled for 2020 but the board is considering moving the works forward eight years to start in 2013.

"I want to see it come forward dramatically," Mr Climo said.

The move is in stark contrast to the thinking in March 2007 that ward upgrades would have to be scrapped because rising building prices had escalated the cost of the first redevelopment.

The initial cost of the project came in at $214.9 million in October 2003 but had increased to $278 million over the years.

The board has been working on a review of the upgrade for several months, the outcome of which would be available soon, Mr Climo said.

In a sneak preview though, Mr Climo said Waikato Hospital's older persons services, including treatment and rehabilitation, could be much bigger than originally planned.

The DHB was also considering adding clinical facilities including more beds on top of the new emergency department, which is being built now.

"We've had a bit of a legacy of under-investment that we are now trying to overcome," Mr Climo said.

He added that the initial redesign was several years old and the DHB wanted the upgrade to be as up-to-date as possible.

"We're asking if we can get better gains out of what we are doing. The design has been going on for years . . . the world and the health sector in particular moves a long way in the course of five or six years."

But two issues had to be worked through - funding and logistics.

"This is an organisation under a huge amount of change pressure. We've got redevelopment - that's physical disruption when you're running 24/7, but it also necessitates big changes to the way we work."

So far, at Waikato Hospital, the service and campus redevelopment (SCR) project has resulted in a new 800-space carpark, a new entrance and the creation of a Transit Lounge, and a new delivery suite including a Women's Assessment Unit.

A brand new histology and cytology laboratory was opened last week and there will also be a new emergency department and newborn unit, as well as a new road layout.

At Thames Hospital a $27 million upgrade is taking place.


(c) 2008 Waikato Times. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.