Sonya is a social issues reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Pathlab building opens its doors

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Pathlab pathologist and director Dr Richard Massey and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges opened the new Pathlab facility today. Photo/Sonya Bateson
Pathlab pathologist and director Dr Richard Massey and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges opened the new Pathlab facility today. Photo/Sonya Bateson

A new state of the art, $20 million-plus Pathlab building will be opening its doors to the public on Monday.

The new building, which has been built on Tauranga Hospital land at the corner of Cameron Rd and 17th Ave, is the second public-private partnership facility to be built at the hospital after the Kathleen Kilgour Centre.

The new building and its fit-out cost $20 million, but this did not include the specialist equipment.

The pride of the new facility is its Kiestra Microbiology Automation system, which is the largest system in Australasia and the first in New Zealand. It could speed up the return of urine, swab and blood culture results by anywhere from half a day to a day.

The robotic machine opens the specimen, inoculates the plate, spreads the sample, sorts it and transports it to an incubator.

Laboratory staff can then view the samples using digital images and establish which antibiotic will be effective within a shorter time frame.

It also has the country's longest Lamson system - pneumatic air tube systems that whiz samples from various wards 500m under the ground straight to the laboratory.

Pathlab pathologist and director Richard Massey said the new building had been a slow project which turned into a sprint for the finish.

"For some people, those who have been working for Pathlab for a long time, a new lab has been promised on this campus for 40 years and we've finally managed it.

"It took a shared vision and a partnership to bring this about."

Dr Massey said he was proud of the new set up, particularly the new specialist microbiology system which was world leading and a first in Australasia.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said the new building was magnificently stunning and it was a symbol of what Pathlab represented - innovation, quality and fantastic service.

Mr Bridges said the Tauranga Hospital campus now had two public-private partnership facilities on site. He was not aware of anything like this within the district health board system, which made Tauranga "a real leader".

"What excited me so much about this is it means better services for the people in this area. I do believe we have the best primary health care in New Zealand, we've got a fantastic hospital."

Pathlab - Key facts

• $20m building including fit-out but not specialist equipment.

• 5500sq m of which 3000sq m houses specialist laboratory.

• Contains Lamson pneumatic tube transport system. The longest in NZ at 500m

• Kiestra Microbiology Automation system, largest system in Australasia and first in New Zealand.

• Patient collection facility opens Monday at 7.30am.

• 192 scientific and technical staff.

• 12 local pathologists.

• 1800 patient episodes daily.

• 24/7 support to Tauranga Hospital.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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