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‘Covid upgrade’ for hospital

HAUORA Tairawhiti is improving its “pandemic responsiveness” relating to oxygen usage and by providing suitable spaces to provide care for patients and staff.

Chief executive Jim Green says Hauora Tairawhiti is one of 12 health boards using additional government funding to retrofit their premises with “five pieces of work at Gisborne Hospital”.

Those are:

' Upgrading the oxygen vaporisation and flow to the hospital including wider dissemination in the building.

' Increasing the number of negative pressure rooms in the medical ward, and a wider area for lower intensity care.

(Negative pressure rooms use negative air pressure to prevent airborne disease from escaping the room and infecting other people. A machine pulls air into the room. Then it filters the air before moving it outside.)

' Creating more negative- pressure assessment areas in the Emergency Department.

' Creating a negative-pressure in-patient space in Planet Sunshine (children's ward).

' Increase capacity for areas in which people can be ventilated — up to six people at once.

Mr Green said the changes included support areas for staff, for example donning and doffing personal protective equipment, showers and toilets.

“There are also safety features to ensure particle (virus) loads in the air are kept to a safe level and oxygen levels do not reach combustible levels given the rate of oxygen being used.”

A Ministry of Health (MoH) contracted team visited the hospital before Christmas and will write up specifications for approval by Hauora Tairawhiti this month which will then go to the MoH approval group for the funding.

Tendering for the work will occur in March with completion scheduled for August.

Local contractors would be used where possible, Mr Green said.