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Big Day For West Coast As New Hospital Blessed

Today is a big day for the West Coast DHB, with the start of the transition process from the old Grey Base hospital to the gleaming new Te Nikau building next door.

Board chairman Rick Barker told members on Friday that Fletchers started not long ago with about 280 'defects' to remedy before the move could begin and now only a handful remained.

"Fletcher have put a sophisticated and complete team onto the project and the last report I had three days ago said there were five outstanding items; four of which all the materials are onsite. The fifth one ... has been rescheduled for later in May, so we are likely to have Te Nikau ready for the transition process on the 11th."

But there was one thing missing — and he had to insist it was remedied.

"There was no canopy over the entrance. You cannot open a hospital on the West Coast without a canopy over the front door. It rains here!" Mr Barker declared.

The blessing ceremony planned for today had to be scaled back because of the Covid-19 restrictions, but it was a very important event, culturally and spiritually, he said.

"That (the scaling back) is disappointing but as the restrictions are lifted, there will be other opportunities for the public to have a look inside; I am very impressed with it."

By June 10, the DHB should be able to name the date when the first patients would be admitted to Te Nikau, Mr Barker reported.

Progress on plans and funding for Buller's new health centre had also struck an unexpected 'hiccup' this month he said.

"We had a letter from the Ministry of Health saying they needed more information — David (Meates-CEO) and I were thunderstruck at this ... what more could you know?

"It seems some people in the system hadn't quite got a grasp of all the history so we went back and set out all the things that had been said and done before."

"This is about trust — for Buller, a delay would have been deja vu after Te Nikau — it was important for the relationship of the Board and Buller people, and we were not going to go down the same track twice."

But the DHB had since been told the funding was likely to be approved within the next ten days, and once that was done the board could complete the tender for the removal of asbestos in Westport, he said.

Work should start as soon as the contractors could get on site, and as restrictions were removed.

"We've now got two big projects on the way — and it's all looking pretty good."

Board member Edie Moke thanked Mr Barker and the management team for pushing the two projects along, saying she had been very grumpy with the delays.

© Scoop Media

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