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Napier: Sending an SOS


Sending an SOS - Napier Public Health Action Group

“In the event of a natural disaster, Napier city is defenceless” says Don Stuart, Chairman of the Napier Public Health Action Group.

“Hawke’s Bay DHB Chair, Kevin Atkinson, recently stated that Napier’s publicly-funded Medical Centre at Wellesley Road has no significant role to play ‘at all in the event of a natural disaster’ and ‘had never been part of the emergency planning for a natural disaster’. How can Napier citizens have confidence in Mr Atkinson’s claims?” asks Mr Stuart.

“Atkinson named several privately-owned medical facilities as the units the DHB would co-opt when a tsunami or other disaster occurred. Curiously, one facility he named (‘City Medical’) is based in the Wellesley Road Medical Centre. Perhaps he meant ‘The Doctors’. That facility is even closer to the foreshore than Wellesley Road, so its use in a tsunami aftermath equals Wellesley Road’s – none at all.

“Mr Atkinson further stated that Parkside Hospital ‘would provide “hospital-level” care’ in a disaster aftermath. Has Mr Atkinson spoken with the hospital’s management lately to secure his agreement? I understand that, due to government agencies slashing its contracts; it is not currently functioning as a 24-hour hospital. Parkside cannot provide the services that Mr Atkinson claims” said Mr Stuart.

“Wellesley Road’s exclusion from the DHB’s plan shows just how big a folly it really is. Millions of public health dollars are wasted on the city’s only public health building that, by the DHBs own admission, doesn’t even rate in a natural disaster.

“People naturally seek high ground in floods. The obvious site for an emergency centre is the only readily-accessible stable high ground in the city; the Hill.

“Despite Mr Atkinson’s claim that using the extant Napier Hill Hospital buildings in a tsunami aftermath is a ‘non-starter’, his plan to use buildings sited on reclaimed, flood-prone land is extraordinarily myopic. The Hill Hospital has its own large water reservoir and other emergency units (unless they have all been stripped).

“It seems that the DHB do not have a realistic public health disaster management plan for Napier. Does Mr Atkinson really expect three small private practices to manage the needs of 56,000 people? Napier’s vulnerability needs to be taken far more seriously by the government and its representatives than they are giving it”, said Mr Stuart.

Don Stuart, Chair, Napier Public Health Action Group.

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