New hospital conf irmed

By Laura Mills

A new $62 million Greymouth Hospital has been signed off, complete with 60 beds, a bigger maternity unit and modern operating theatres.
After months of angst — and talk behind closed doors of just 36 beds — the news, released at lunchtime, will come as a relief to staff and patients.
The 40-year-old existing hospital will be almost entirely rebuilt, with site works expected to begin later this year.
Health Minister Tony Ryall said the business case for the new hospital had been signed off and the project was now in the final design phase.
A further $4.6m has been allowed for a new ‘energy centre’.
“There will be new wards, a bigger maternity unit, four older person rehabilitation cottages, an emergency department, intensive care unit, three state-of-the-art operating theatres.
“There will also be an integrated family health care centre on the Greymouth Hospital site,” Mr Ryall said.
The maternity unit had to be downsized when it was moved due to earthquake concerns with the current building.
The minister said there had been a lot of misinformation around the hospital redevelopment.
“Today’s announcement shows this National-led Government is committed to future-proof health services on the West Coast.”
It would be the biggest hospital investment per head of population in New Zealand history.
Mr Ryall said Cabinet had this week approved the total $67m ‘greenfields’ development plan, involving rebuilding on a new site.
The Greymouth Star understands it could go just north of the existing hospital.
The plans allowed $1m for demolition costs and a new car park, opening in 2016, and further funding for the development of the in-patient mental health facility, which would commence in 2017.
“I would like to thank the West Coast clinicians, design team and partnership group for their hard work developing the business case,” Mr Ryall said.
West Coast District Health Board chief executive David Meates said the announcement “gives certainty to our community and to our staff”.
“We now have certainty of a new, modern Grey Base Hospital and integrated family health centre to be built to replace the ageing Grey Base Hospital,” Mr Meates said.
Board chairman Dr Paul McCormack said the $62.4m allowed for the hospital and the adjoining family health centre, along with $4.6m for the ‘energy centre’, would give the West Coast “the most modern health facilities in rural New Zealand”.
“This has been a long time coming and I’m delighted the board has been able to deliver on its promise to the community,” Dr McCormack said.
Mr Meates said the board was now in a position to start making firm plans about how to share information with the West Coast community.
“At this point we have some high level concept plans which will evolve over the coming months as we move into the detailed design phase.”
One of the operating theatres would be used mainly as a procedure room.
The integrated family health centre, for GPs and other health professionals, would have about 40 consultation rooms.
West Coast DHB chief medical officer Dr Carol Atmore said clinicians had looked at new and flexible ways of working.
“These include the use of a more home-like environment for older people who are ‘getting back on their feet’ in the independent living ‘step-down’ beds, and providing a child health service that will be able to ‘flex up’ in size, depending on children and their families’ needs,” Dr Atmore said.
The West Coast Partnership Group set up to work through the redevelopment will now work with the DHB to call for tenders from contractors.