Earlier this morning a blessing service was held for the new Acute Admitting Unit at Ashburton Hospital, part of an $8.7 million upgrade and refurbishment of facilities.
An impressive $1.5 million of that total was raised by local community funders, Advance Ashburton Community Foundation in conjunction with the Mackenzie Charitable Trust, the Lion Foundation, the Ashburton Licensing Trust and the Trevor Wilson Charitable Trust.
With a maximum capacity of 74 beds*, Ashburton's existing hospital is Canterbury's largest rural health facility and one of only four Level 3 rural hospitals in the South Island. A Level 3 hospital provides onsite 24-hour medical cover, 24-hour access to radiology and laboratory services.
The new Acute Admitting Unit and Day Procedure Theatre is expected to open its doors to the first patients in early December 2016. Before then, a public open day is planned for Sunday November 27th to give Ashburton people a chance to walk through their new facility.
The Acute Admitting Unit replaces an older, smaller unit and is purpose-built to ensure efficient assessment, stabilisation and short-term care of acute cases.
Murray Cleverley, Chair of the Canterbury District Health Board, attended the blessing service and is pleased that the new unit will soon be commissioned.
"This facility is an important addition to Ashburton's health service capabilities, helping Canterbury DHB better align the way it provides care with rural community needs," he says.
Greg Robertson, Canterbury DHB Chief of Surgery, says the new Acute Admitting Unit will use innovative approaches to rural health service provision.
"The unit will rely upon a new type of doctor known as a 'rural hospital specialist'. This position is a consultant-grade multi-speciality doctor able to manage patients with a wide range of conditions and treatment needs.
"The state-of-the-art unit also allows for medical education, training and research opportunities, helping to attract and retain high-quality staff and visiting specialists."
Two research positions associated with the unit have already been established through community funding from Advance Ashburton for the next three years.
"Together, these innovations allow Ashburton Hospital to build its status as a centre of medical excellence, to offer a wider range of procedures than at present, and to enable efficient transfer of patients to and from Christchurch Hospital."
Alongside the Acute Assessment unit, a new theatre has been built. The day procedures that will be provided in this unit will be those that can be provided safely in a rural hospital setting.
Mr Robertson says the new unit will be highly complementary to existing DHB theatre capability.
"Ashburton Hospital will work closely with the wider Canterbury DHB theatre planning team to explore many new options for service delivery that can be provided within this state-of-the-art facility.
"The model of bringing together both services (acute care and planned procedures) into one facility enables Ashburton Hospital to use its workforce and resources in a very flexible way."
David Meates, Canterbury DHB's CEO agrees.
"Our new facilities at Ashburton are all part of the DHB's 'long life, loose fit' approach to healthcare service provision in Canterbury, creating flexible spaces that will keep pace with healthcare innovations, and within which our staff can provide the right care to the right person at the right time, both now and well into the future."
* The total of 74 beds includes an off-site aged residential care unit.
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