Published Tuesday 5 Apr 2022

Infrastructure enhancement and pandemic resilience continues to progress at pace across the region’s hospitals, with the construction of a new stand-by inpatient area for Te Pae Tiaki Wellington Emergency Department patients at Wellington Regional Hospital.

Located within the hospital’s Main Outpatients Department, the new ward consists of an additional 12 adult inpatient bed spaces that could be used to ease pressure on ED in the event of a pandemic surge or mass casualty incident.

“ED is seeing increasingly high presentation numbers with increasing acuity which, along with higher demand for hospital services, means patients often wait longer than we would like in ED while waiting for a bed on a ward,” said 2DHB chief medical officer John Tait.

“This has been exacerbated by COVID-19 and made our need for additional bed spaces imperative – particularly in terms of our planning to manage a surge of COVID-19 patients requiring hospital-level care and support.”

Construction of the new ward was funded by $500,000 of a $4 million investment from the Government’s Rapid Hospital Programme, with $3 million used to create a secondary screening area for Wellington ED and a satellite renal unit at Hutt Hospital.

“The remaining $500,000 has enabled us to make various enhancements to our air management systems to improve our resilience and reduce risk to our day-to-day operations – both COVID-19 and non-COVID-related.

“This has included the installation of high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter exhaust systems to create ward containment areas for COVID-19 patients and upgrade oxygen supply in anticipation of increased demand, and enabling two of our theatres and two dental surgeries are able to operate at negative pressure.

“Other work in planning or set to commence includes modifying air management in our Mental Health, Addictions and Intellectual Disability Service (MHAIDS) inpatient units to improve our ability to continue caring for clients with COVID-19.”

These upgrades are part of a wider ongoing programme of infrastructure improvements being made by the 2DHBs to bolster resilience and improve care and experience for both COVID-19 and non-COVID patients and clients.

These improvements include the construction of individualised service units at Ratonga Rua o Porirua, ongoing enhancements and future proofing of the region’s new children’s hospital Te Wao Nui, reconfiguration of existing spaces within our hospitals to improve patient flow, and design work on the mental health inpatient facility at Hutt Hospital.

“These, and other works, will help ensure the ongoing delivery of services and support for both COVID-19 and non-COVID patients. As a result, whānau and communities across the 2DHB region can remain assured that our regional health system is safe and will continue to remain so into the future.”

Media contact: Chas Te Runa – 027 230 9571