The Canterbury Health System is working towards
having most General Medicine services back to one site after they were split
between The Princess Margaret Hospital and Christchurch Hospital following the
February 22 earthquake.
The Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB)
plans to move the Parkside Outpatients Department to a new location on St Asaph
Street, away from the main hospital and adjacent to the public car park
building, allowing expansion of the Acute Medical Assessment Unit from 25 to 36
CDHB chief executive David Meates says the
February 22 earthquake resulted in the closure of General Medical wards to
inpatients in levels four and five of Riverside Block at Christchurch
“While these wards have been temporarily moved
to The Princess Margaret Hospital, it is not clinically acceptable to have
General Medicine services split across two sites and we are still operating with
35 fewer beds overall this winter,” Mr Meates says.
“CDHB has developed an Earthquake Recovery Plan,
which addresses the damage done to the health infrastructure and introduces a
number of new ways of working with an emphasis on more services being provided
in the community and in people’s homes where appropriate.”
Mr Meates says an enlarged and enhanced Acute
Medical Assessment Unit will lead to a reduced demand for ward beds and enable
most of the fragmented services to be consolidated on the Christchurch Hospital
The existing Acute Medical Assessment Unit,
established five years ago, has met and exceeded its initial objectives
including reduced time spent in the Emergency Department (ED), earlier diagnosis
and commencement of treatment resulting in shorter length of stay, improved
staff satisfaction and improved medical team productivity, he says.
Further gains from an enlarged Acute Medical
Assessment Unit include moving to a full seven day service with extended
consultant and allied health input and accepting direct admissions from General
Practice, therefore bypassing ED.
“This will have the dual benefits of reducing
pressure on ED and ensuring patients are assessed in the correct environment
sooner with increased opportunities to go home earlier,” Mr Meates
The impact of the earthquakes has caused an
estimated $70 million repairs and building work including damage to more than
7500 hospital rooms.
“The next 18 months is going to be challenging
with repairs creating significant disruptions in many areas,” Mr Meates
site for the enlarged Acute Medical Assessment Unit is the ground floor of
Christchurch Hospital’s Parkside West building. It is currently occupied by the
Parkside Outpatients Department. The Acute Medical Assessment Unit will move
from its existing site of Level One in Riverside block to this site.
existing Acute Medical Assessment Unit will revert to a normal General Medicine
ward and two of the three temporary wards at The Princess Margaret Hospital will
be progressively closed, leaving one ward that will have a planned focus on
rehabilitation of stroke patients.
estimated cost of constructing a larger Acute Medical Assessment Unit is $7
million, with the additional operating costs to be partially offset by savings
from the staged closure of the beds at The Princess Margaret Hospital.
benefits include improved patient safety and satisfaction and improved staff
morale, leading to improved recruitment and retention.
changes will mean 23 fewer General Medicine beds than available pre-earthquake.
Outpatients will be relocated to a building on the St Asaph Street site that
currently houses the Stores Department at an estimated cost of about $8.5
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