Hospital buildings fail earthquake test

Last updated 12:30 13/12/2012

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Two buildings at Palmerston North Hospital have been found to be below earthquake safety standards and will be closed in April.

The buildings - the board office and the old administration building - are not used by patients. Instead they house managerial, administrative and support staff.

The buildings were assessed by independent structural engineers, as part of a national exercise carried out at the request of the Ministry of Health. They were found to be at less than 33 per cent of the building standard and in need of remedial strengthening work. They will close on April 30.

"A safe work environment is a priority for MidCentral DHB. This is why a risk-averse approach is being taken regarding the two buildings assessed as requiring action in the short term," said MidCentral District Health Board chief executive Murray Georgel.

"The cost of relocating these services . . . will be assessed over the next few months."

Concerns about the board office building relate only to the single-storey section that houses reception and the boardroom.

The old administration building houses services including human resources, hospital management, commercial services, quality, occupational health and infection control teams.

Staff in the two buildings will be relocated to other buildings on the hospital campus.

Three other buildings - Education Centre, Pullar Cottage and an unoccupied house on Heretaunga St - were also found to require remedial work, but did not require immediate action and could be strengthened at a future date.

The DHB is seeking advice from Palmerston North City Council regarding the timing of strengthening work.

The information about the buildings will be used in the Palmerston North Hospital site redevelopment project, which had been on hold while the seismic assessment was carried out.

The announcement comes several weeks after the news that All Saints Church will close on March 1 as it too does not meet earthquake standards. The cost of repairing the church was understood to be several million dollars.

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- Manawatu Standard

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