Hospital shuffle proposed to free up space

A review of Palmerston North Hospital's clogged ambulatory care facility proposes to free up space by shuffling ophthalmology, medical imaging and the mail room.

The ambulatory care centre on the ground floor of Palmerston North Hospital caters for outpatient services including urology, ear, nose and throat and respiratory.

It is where people go for first specialist assessments, diagnostics, minor procedures and follow-up checks.

The review, presented to the MidCentral District Health Board this week, found patient experience at the facility is poor due to a lack of patient flow, that staff waste considerable time moving equipment from room to room, that they sometimes have to wait for a room, and an adequate tea room is wanted.

Hospital services operations director Lyn Horgan said more space was needed for the ambulatory care unit.

The need to address space issues at the facility has been described as urgent.

In their report to the board, Ms Horgan and executive director Helene Carbonatto said a number of options were assessed both on and off the campus.

"The review has identified appropriate space to mitigate capacity and demand issues . . . for the next five years," they said.

About 16 to 20 rooms could be made available by developing the NZ Blood donor area.

A further 24 rooms could be freed up in the facility by moving ophthalmology, podiatry, medical imaging and support services to another part of the hospital.

The need for a new or expanded and remodelled ambulatory care unit was highlighted in a 2007 DHB report, and again in 2012.

New facilities are unlikely to be a core component of plans under way to redevelop the hospital site.

But space may be freed up in the building in about five years if critical services are approved for redevelopment. More than 100 staff were consulted for the review in a bid to understand the space difficulties and offer a range of options.

Feedback included that there was insufficient storage of supplies, inefficiencies from services being spread across multiple sites, that moving beds into some rooms was a major undertaking and that available rooms could not be used because they were not appropriate for the patient or the length of the booking was not known.

The review only focused on space issues and a second phase of the review looking at improvements will be undertaken.

The proposed facility changes are expected to cost about $1.6 million but a comprehensive costing will be delivered to the board at its March meeting.

Manawatu Standard