Bay of Plenty hospitals are undergoing upgrades to better prepare for Covid-19, should the need arise.
The Ministry of Health's COVID-19 Response – Oxygen Supply and Related Environmental Systems project has begun in Tauranga Hospital and continues in Whakatāne Hospital in various phases from October 4 to mid-February 2022.
A statement from the Bay of Plenty District Health Board (BOPDHB) said the work was part of the national pandemic response planning being led by the Ministry of Health and will re-purpose a section of Tauranga Hospital's Orthopaedic Ward to provide additional oxygen supply and improved air management for environments in the ward, and areas in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
The upgrades will result in the BOPDHB having areas for the treatment of Covid-19 patients where high volumes of oxygen and improved air management systems can be made available, the statement said.
These changes will enhance the care of patients and improve safety for staff, should the need arise.
This work is an essential part of the Pandemic Response for the Bay of Plenty region.
The indicative time frames provided by the Ministry team who are managing the build are:
• Fourth Floor Inpatient Ward – Some patients were moved on October 7 from Ward 4C to the new temporary Ward 1D, creating empty space for work to commence on October 8 which will take 6-8 weeks to complete.
• ICU: a 3-phased approach commencing mid-October through to mid-February.
Twenty patients can be accommodated temporarily in the new Ward 1D (the former the Transit Lounge), and Transit Lounge patients will be housed temporarily in the Conference Centre.
Six patients or more who meet specific criteria will transition to an Aged Residential Care facility supported by Allied Health Professionals, GPs, and specialist nurses.
Additional work is also identified for the emergency departments at both Tauranga and Whakatāne Hospitals. The specific details and proposed timelines for this work are yet to be finalised.
Some planned care will be deferred from September 27 to October 15.
"These improvements are urgent because a significant Covid-19 surge may arise at any time and anywhere," the statement said.
"The short timeframe around enabling these works presented the DHB with a significant challenge in an environment where current occupancy of capacity averages 90 per cent.
"These projects are about ensuring our hospitals in Tauranga and Whakatāne, will be hospitals that will enhance the care of patients and improve safety for staff, should the need arise."