The land for a new $70 million Hawke's Bay-owned and operated elective surgery facility that will create 100 new jobs in Hastings has been given a cultural blessing.
Hawke's Bay District Health Board kaumātua Hawira Hape led the karakia Whakawatea on Friday, and a delegation representing Westside Healthcare clinicians and investors, the project team, and local council, walked the 1ha site on Canning Rd which is beside Hawke's Bay Hospital.
Major demolition works by Gemco Construction have now been completed after being put on hold during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Over the next eight weeks, Gemco will undertake bulk earthworks to prepare the site for the foundations and building construction to commence in July.
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Westside Healthcare's managing director Dr Colin Hutchison said it was a very special occasion to have the site blessed by HBDHB Hawira Hape, especially with his ancestry having a long and significant connection to healthcare for the region.
Hape is a descendant of Te Hapuku, a Ngāti Kahungunu Māori chief who was one of three Heretaunga representatives who gifted the neighbouring land on which the Hawke's Bay Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hospital stands today.
The first stage of the project includes four operating theatres, full pre-op and recovery areas (including overnight beds), along with 150 car parks. It is planned to open in January 2022.
The second stage, which is still under concept-development, will be announced as the project progresses.
Hutchison thanked the former land-owners and tenants, who, through agreeing to sell and relocate their businesses, had enabled Westside to build on the ideal location next door to Hawke's Bay hospital.
"This project has been made possible because everyone involved has shared our vision to improve the facilities and access to quality healthcare for people living in Hawke's Bay.
"This is one of the most exciting health and infrastructure developments which will help get our region moving again, in this challenging new economic environment.
"Especially, to be doing this now, at a time when the DHB is now facing unprecedented challenges, post Covid-19, with even more pressure on the growing public waiting lists for elective surgery.
"We are going to be in a position to help by providing our additional theatre facilities to enable extra capacity by another 5000 operations a year."
"Another major benefit is that having a new world-class elective surgery facility will ensure Hawke's Bay is able to attract and retain more specialist doctors, who can work across both the private and public sector," Hutchison said.
Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said the new Westside Healthcare facility is an incredible investment in healthcare services for the region.
"As a community, we are very grateful for the vision of everyone involved in this project to improve the health and wellbeing of our people.
"To have a regionally owned and operated new surgical facility, with the opportunity to work alongside our regional hospital, will ease the burden and reduce waiting times for elective operations and will be significant for our community.
"Westside's plans for the future to provide access to more health services for our community is very exciting."