A poroporoaki* has been held in acknowledgement of the closure of Burwood Birthing Unit, which officially shut its doors yesterday after 70 years' serving Canterbury families.
Canterbury DHB closed it earlier this year after staff and women felt unsafe being there during the magnitude 5.7 earthquake on February 14, but the DHB agreed to temporarily reopen it in April while at the same time making it clear that the unit would permanently close on June 30, 2016. The Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service and Pain Management Clinic that were housed in the same facility have recently been relocated, thanks to the completion of the Burwood Hospital redevelopment.
David Meates, Canterbury DHB chief executive, says before the February 14 quake, Canterbury DHB had originally intended to keep the Burwood unit open until it had built a new primary maternity unit in the Christchurch area.
However, Canterbury has sufficient primary maternity unit capacity in and around Christchurch to provide appropriate services to Canterbury women for some time to come.
"We appreciate it may mean travelling a little further to one of our other primary units or to Christchurch Women's Hospital, and are developing a map with suggested routes and travel times from eastern suburbs, to inform women's choice.
"Another major factor which influenced our decision to close the Burwood Birthing Unit permanently is the significant amount of asbestos in the building, which creates real issues when repairs or any basic maintenance work are needed.
"A band aid solution is just not viable when you consider the Primary Birthing Strategy and what is needed in the long term for our community."
Mr Meates says the community will be kept informed on whatever is decided around the future provision of maternity services.
"However, it's important to be realistic about timelines as it's all happening across the health system. The Canterbury DHB has the largest amount of health facility construction to have ever been underway at one time in New Zealand, including a huge quake repair schedule, as well as new facilities," Mr Meates says
"We thank everyone in the community for understanding we are committed to finding a long term solution."
*A poroporoaki is a Maori farewell ceremony.
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