A long-term project to upgrade Hokianga Hospital in Rawene to meet government healthcare facility standards — and the community's aspirations for a high-quality, local hospital service — has been completed after a 25-year effort.
Hokianga Health Enterprise Trust celebrated the completion of the project with a powhiri and lunch at the hospital grounds on August 2 attended by Health Minister David Clark and more than 300 guests.
In 1994, one year after the trust was formed, the not-for-profit community health service received a letter from the Ministry of Health's Hospital Licensing Division which stated the hospital required more than 50 upgrades to its structure and patient facilities to retain its licence to operate.
The final stage of the upgrade, undertaken over the last year, raised the 90-year-old hospital building to modern healthcare standards at a cost of $2.3 million.
Changes include renova-tions to the 10-bed inpatient care facility, upgrading the hospital's two infection control rooms, four continuing care rooms and a ward office. The on-site Pou Kara Ariki Marae was also refurbished, as was the hospital's whānau room.
Chief executive John Wigglesworth said since 1994 each stage of the upgrade had been funded entirely by the community through the Hokianga Health Enterprise Trust with help from sponsors.
"We thank the late Sheila Wilson for her generous bequest, Hokianga Hospital Auxiliary for their relentless support and our sponsorship partner Comvita's Kiwi Bee apiary business," Mr Wigglesworth said.
Other guests at Friday's celebration included Far North mayor John Carter, Northland District Health Board chairwoman Sally Macauley and Comvita general manager apiaries Trevor Clarke.
The trust has a three-year sponsorship agreement with Kiwi Bee Medical, the apiary arm of mānuka honey exporter Comvita. Kiwi Bee funding has so far been used to improve the emergency department, build a new x-ray room and upgrade some wards.
Mr Clarke said trust's focus on hauora (holistic wellbeing) aligned closely with Comvita values.
"We're pleased to be able to support the trust in improving patient services at Hokianga Hospital. Congratulations to the team who've worked extremely hard to deliver the final stages of a high-quality facility that's been 25 years in the making."
As well as overseeing Hokianga Hospital, Hokianga Health Enterprise Trust has 10 general practice clinics throughout North and South Hokianga providing healthcare with no charge. The trust also runs a maternity service and healthy living programmes.