Hospital squeeze causing stress

LISA KNIGHT
Last updated 12:00 14/08/2014

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Patients are being left in corridors as problems with the buildings at Palmerston North Hospital cause a great deal of stress for staff and patients, a review shows.

An indicative business case for the multimillion-dollar hospital redevelopment was approved by MidCentral District Health Board members in a meeting on Tuesday, taking the plans one step closer.

The building configuration and space constraints at the hospital resulted in a loss of productivity and undermined co-ordination within and between services, said the review on current hospital services, which was prepared by MidCentral DHB investment and planning executive director Helene Carbonatto as part of the business case.

Space constraints had several ill effects for productive operation within the hospital, Carbonatto said.

"Our interviews and subsequent meetings revealed that very tight room sizes were causing problems throughout the hospital."

Services suffered from a lack of office, storage and clinical space.

The emergency department bed numbers were inadequate and the area was described as "chaotic" by ambulance services, the review said.

"ED experiences poor patient flows and patients are routinely managed in corridors in chairs and trolleys.

"This is not ideal from quality and patient privacy perspectives, but it also limits staff productivity through a lack of working space, staff toilets and changing rooms."

ED acting clinical director Dr David Prisk told the review the department sometimes had 50 or 60 patients and nowhere to put them.

"Our beds are full, the minor work station is full, the observation area is full . . . sometimes we put them in the hallways, but they really can't be adequately examined or interviewed there without serious compromises to patient privacy and confidentiality," he said.

"You simply cannot do a proper exam in the hallway, and this delays care."

Carbonatto said in the review that mental health patients were poorly managed, often in open areas and corridors, as the department dealt with higher acuity patients.

A Palmerston North woman named Sharon shared her "odd" ED experience in the review.

"I was shifted into the corridor because they needed for me to wait . . . They had to shift my bed constantly to get into the Band-Aids."

Other patients shared stories about a lack of privacy and space.

Corridors were narrow but were being used for storage, Carbonatto said. Theatres were congested and rooms were small when compared to modern standards and wards lacked private bathrooms.

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Cancer services, and critical care services were dotted throughout the hospital and the distance between these inhibited the efficiency and effectiveness of acute care.

The $105.7 million hospital plans, which include a new build to address seismic-strengthening and capacity concerns, and a refurbishment, would address the problems facing MidCentral Health Board, Carbonatto said.

- Manawatu Standard

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