Hutt community assured Govt, Health NZ will see through hospital fix


Labour MPs and public officials have assured the Hutt Valley community health services will remain in their city and their hospital will not crumble around them as solutions are found on a quake-prone building.

The promises were made at a public meeting on Thursday night at Boulcotts Farm and come in the wake of an engineer’s report that gave Hutt Hospital’s Heretaunga Block an overall seismic rating of 15% under the New Building Standard.

It was standing room only in the function hall, where about 200 people attended the meeting, hosted by Hutt South MP Ginny Andersen.

MP for Hutt South, Ginny Andersen, hosted a public meeting for an update on Hutt Hospital’s quake-prone Heretaunga building on Thursday evening in Lower Hutt. (File photo)

Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

MP for Hutt South, Ginny Andersen, hosted a public meeting for an update on Hutt Hospital’s quake-prone Heretaunga building on Thursday evening in Lower Hutt. (File photo)

“As the health minister has assured, we will always have a hospital in the Hutt and there has been strong words around retaining services in the Hutt,” Andersen said.

READ MORE:
* Hutt Hospital building strengthening ‘not feasible nor cost-effective’ – DHB
* Nurses leaving as fast as they’re replaced in Wellington
* ‘We just want clarity’: No answers on Hutt maternity services in wake of quake report

But the absence of Health Minister Andrew Little was criticised, after Andersen said he lost his voice speaking in the House on Thursday.

“Little has got ears, he could have come and listened to us,” one member of the crowd said.

Another crowd member asked for increased transparency over the process.

“The fact the room is full and there’s standing room only shows the level of concern,” they said, to applause from others. “My plea is your communications ramp up so everyone feels informed about the decisions you’re making.”

The Heretaunga building at Hutt Hospital is expected to perform well in a moderate earthquake, but if the Wellington faultline was to rupture, “that is when we would have concerns”, DHB chief financial officer Mathew Parr said.

Jericho Rock-Archer/Stuff

The Heretaunga building at Hutt Hospital is expected to perform well in a moderate earthquake, but if the Wellington faultline was to rupture, “that is when we would have concerns”, DHB chief financial officer Mathew Parr said.

Chief financial officer Mathew​ Parr and chief medical officer John Tait attended from Hutt Valley and Capital & Coast District Health Boards as well as the DHBs’ legal counsel, and two officials from Health New Zealand, which takes over the health system on July 1.

Remutaka MP Chris Hipkins reiterated previous promises to at least maintain the size or scale of the hospital. He added: “As a nation we need to realise not every hospital will be able to provide every speciality.”

There may be a need to expand some services due to population growth, Hipkins said.

In response to a question about possible changes of government and what that might mean for future plans, Hipkins said: “I can only speak to our government, but I can assure we are certainly committed to seeing this through.”

Remutaka MP Chris Hipkins says there may be a need to grow services in the Hutt Valley. (File photo)

ROBERT KITCHIN/Stuff

Remutaka MP Chris Hipkins says there may be a need to grow services in the Hutt Valley. (File photo)

Hipkins acknowledged he’d had “a bit of experience” with the health system in recent years, in reference to his previous portfolio as Covid-19 response minister.

Parr said the Heretaunga building was safe to be in as it stands.

“We’re confident in the safety of the building and confident it would perform well in a moderate earthquake.” The magnitude 7.8 Kaikōura earthquake was considered moderate, he said.

If the Wellington faultline were to rupture though, “that is when we have concerns”, Parr said.

Long-term fix option one for the Hutt Hospital site proposes a rebuild on the footprint of the Heretaunga building.

supplied

Long-term fix option one for the Hutt Hospital site proposes a rebuild on the footprint of the Heretaunga building.

“We looked at an immediate decant option and our board paper was clear there would be significant risks … and that’s due to the scale of this building,” Parr told those at the meeting.

“It’s 79% of beds in the Hutt Valley and 25% of beds across our hospital campuses in the Wellington region. We just can’t accommodate that much [sic] services without significant impact.”

Speaking after the meeting, Hipkins said there was no ballpark figure on what a new build might cost, but said it’s “not so much about the money”, but finding a way to continue care as a build or remediation work was done.

Those at the meeting were told a $9.7 million chunk of money allocated for improvements to Hutt maternity services would not disappear.

Long-term fix option two proposes a new building in the centre of the Hutt Hospital site, with the Heretaunga Block left standing.

supplied

Long-term fix option two proposes a new building in the centre of the Hutt Hospital site, with the Heretaunga Block left standing.

“There’s no plan to reallocate that to anything else,” Rosalie Percival, chief financial officer from interim Health NZ replied.

No decision has yet been made on whether the Te Awakairangi Birthing Centre at Melling would become a public health facility.

In a district health board meeting on Wednesday board members agreed on a set of final recommendations to be passed to Health New Zealand, which will choose whether to act on them.

Members requested a further, independent engineering report on the Heretaunga Block, further advice on the importance level under the Building Code, and that decisions be made and solutions found quickly.

Parr told members another report would take longer, given the first seismic report was commissioned in August 2021, and the draft only received in March, and six engineers had been involved so far.

Four board members voted against seeking a further engineering report, but the motion passed.

A fence erected around the building was intended to be a short term “mitigation step”, director of provider services Joy Farley told members on Wednesday.

“[So] should they become dislodged, they will not create damage to patients and staff.”

Monitoring systems were in place to immediately notify engineers if the building was damaged in an earthquake.

Andersen closed the meeting by saying she would be happy to hold another public forum in future “where we can ask questions and get answers”.



Source link

Leave a Comment

x
website average bounce rate