Canterbury District Health Board received a verbal report from its engineers on Tuesday, resulting in the closure of the Allan Bean Centre on the Burwood Health Campus because of quake damage.
The building was recently re-checked as part of the DHB's ongoing regime of re-checking all buildings that do not meet the current new building standards.
David Meates, Canterbury DHB chief executive acknowledges it is disruptive and inconvenient for the occupants of the building – many of whom are in wheelchairs as the New Zealand Spinal Trust has been based in the Allan Bean Centre.
"We have either demolished or vacated 22 Canterbury DHB buildings since the first September 4 quake and continue to occupy around 30 buildings throughout Canterbury, which have critical structural weaknesses – 21 are earthquake-prone but still in use," Mr Meates says.
"These ongoing checks by engineers are vital to ensuring our staff and patients are in buildings that are safe to occupy."
"Unfortunately in this case, further damage has been identified and it's not safe for people to remain in the building."
Occupants have moved to a temporary location.
Mr Meates says the closure is typical of the fragile nature of the environment the DHB works in.
"Two hundred Canterbury DHB buildings sustained damage after the quakes. More than14,000 rooms were damaged and we lost the use of 108 beds at Christchurch Hospital," he says.
"In recent years we've had to close one of our rural hospitals, and operating theatres at short notice due to quake damage. We've created temporary wards and also built a temporary outpatients facility in 100 days, so today's discovery of more extensive cracking in the building is yet another disruption to business as usual."
The Allan Bean Centre was opened in 2001. It's already been repaired once since the quakes.
"However, due to its construction, the post-quake slumping and the type of damage observed it's unlikely to be economic to repair again. Further work will be done to assess the viability of any repairs," Mr Meates says.
The Allan Bean Centre is home to the New Zealand Spinal Trust. NZ Spinal Trust chief executive Ben Lucas says the centre delivered NZ Spinal Trust services to people with spinal cord impairment, including inpatients of the Burwood spinal unit. It was also used by researchers, health professionals as well as patients, carers and their families.
"On an average day we might see 40-50 people through the centre, which also houses an extensive library," Mr Lucus says.
"Over the coming week we will be working to identify a new base which will enable us to continue to offer services on the Burwood site."
Ben Lucas says the Trust is working closely with Canterbury DHB to come up with a solution that would meet the needs of all parties – patients, the Trust and the DHB.
"Once details of the NZ Spinal Trust's new home is finalised we will publicise them," Mr Lucas says.
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