Gisborne Hospital will undergo "major" works to future-proof against an outbreak of Covid-19 and possible future pandemics.
While there is "sufficient bulk supply" of oxygen, a greater capacity to vaporise liquid oxygen and deliver it to key areas around the hospital is needed, the Hauora Tairāwhiti District Health Board heard at its monthly meeting yesterday.
The Ministry of Health has assessed the capacity of hospitals to cope with a "significant Covid-19 resurgence", with Cabinet approving $35 million to be spent across 12 district health boards.
Hauora Tairāwhiti chief executive Jim Green said the hospital had enough oxygen capacity in the bulk store to support five people on ventilators, and 50 in hospital with Covid-19.
However, other equipment and upgrades were required.
The hospital needed a new vaporiser, to turn oxygen from liquid to gas, as well as automatic de-icing equipment and additional lines to move oxygen throughout the buildings, he said.
Work was also needed to increase its "negative pressure room capacity", used to contain airborne contaminants within a room, and this would include upgrades to the emergency department, medical ward, intensive care unit and children's ward.
"This is a very substantial improvement in our facility for future responses to pandemics," Green said.
"It recognises the fact that our infrastructure was built in 1985 and the upgrade is part of the response to underfunding of hospital infrastructure improvement over the years."
A "project kick-off" meeting will be held early next month, followed by a three-day detailed planning exercise.
Where possible, local contractors would be used and planning would be required around service disruption to ward areas.
The work needed to be completed by June 2021, ahead of winter, the report said.
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