Manukau's Ormiston Hospital may not be a household name, but it's doing good work for those who can afford it - not to mention giving a helping hand to the public system, reports John Landrigan.

Hip, hip, hip, hip, hip, hip hooray. It's a lame joke, but Gloria Hart gives new meaning to the celebratory chant. Mrs Hart has undergone six hip and two knee replacements in  more than 30 years  to help overcome crippling arthritis.

The 77-year-old works out in her local Remuera gym to help recover from her latest knee operation, and she's happy with her progress. Mrs Hart followed a trusted surgeon from earlier operations to the little-known Ormiston Hospital at Botany Junction, Manukau City.

Ormiston is an independently owned, private, surgical hospital which is backed by Southern Cross. Its operating doors opened in April 2009 and in-patient service one year ago in July.

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Given her experience of medical services, Mrs Hart is something of an authority on patient care. She rates the new hospital highly.

Because of heart problems, the Remuera resident also received 24-hour care with a "nurse at the end of my bed".

"We call it The Ormiston because it sounds nicer. This hospital is accessible to all. The care was superb, the food was not like hospital food."

Mrs Hart had full medical insurance which covered her operation and rehabilitation. She can't understand people who do not get cover. "Without medical insurance you have to go on a waiting list. Anyone can use this hospital with medical insurance. I like to live a full life and having surgery quickly helps."

Although it is a user-pays private facility, it does benefit everyone in the community, says its spokeswoman, Karen French, including some who may have had to wait in public hospitals. The only hospital in the area, it is mandated to help with overflows from public hospitals if there is a pandemic or natural disaster.

At the moment, the hospital is absorbing some of Manukau District Health Board's elective surgery to reduce waiting lists. Surgeons at Ormiston have performed cataract, ear, nose, throat and joint replacement surgery for the district health board's patients.

One year on, the hospital anticipates increasing this "mutually beneficial" arrangement, says Mrs French. The hospital also plans more involvement with continuous training of local GPs and helping community and charitable organisations.

Meanwhile, Mrs Hart is walking again. She has a pronounced limp, but is happy to be back on her own two feet.

Mod cons

Ormiston Hospital offers:

  • Six operating theatres
  • A Pentax endoscopy suite
  • 12-bed recovery unit
  • 16-bed second stage step-down day patient recovery
  • Six-bed close observation unit
  • 32 in-patient beds
  • In-house physiotherapy
  • On-site radiology, pharmacy and cafe