Sterilising unit a boon for hospital

ADAM ROBERTS
Last updated 12:00 09/02/2013

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A new $750,000 sterilisation facility has put Manuka Street Trust Hospital's facilities on par with the best in the country.

The private Nelson hospital's new Theatre Sterilisation Unit, designed by architect Keith Rowan and built by Gibbons Construction, was formally opened in a ceremony yesterday.

General manager Margaret Gibbs said the new facility quadrupled the amount of space available to doctors and technicians, and vastly increased the speed at which equipment could be cleaned and sterilised.

The renovation also increased the amount of storage space available for theatre equipment, she said, and improved theatre staff facilities.

The new unit uses equipment imported from Sweden to process medical instruments such as scalpels and hammers by passing them through three areas.

The instruments start off at the dirty side, pass through to a clean area, and then go through a hot steam process into a sterilised area to be packaged.

The separate, demarcated areas prevented cross-contamination, Ms Gibbs said.

The equipment was used in other hospitals throughout the country, and meant that sterilisation was as good as it could get, she said.

"While you can look at the outside of Manuka St hospital and think it's a cottage hospital, when you step inside we're just as state-of-the-art as anywhere."

A lot of people thought the hospital was a private healthcare provider, but this was not always the case, she said.

"In fact, we do some public work. About half of our work is funded through the ACC.

"If your provider has an ACC or an employer contract, you can have your surgery done with us. The only thing private about it, I suppose, is that you get to choose when."

The hospital did 2500 operations a year, she said, ranging from orthopaedic surgery and plastic surgery to gynaecology surgery and dental surgery.

There were five orthopaedic surgeons, five general surgeons, two urologists and two emergency medical technicians, with patients able to recover in one of 18 post-operative beds.

The hospital board's deputy chair, Graeme Skeggs, said the old sterilisation unit had been coming to the end of its useful life, and the new one would improve the working lives of all surgeons.

"The flow-through rate is much better. The staff using it have found it's increased efficiency."

There was also room to expand in the future if needed, he said.

Theatre manager Sabine Mueller said the new unit had dramatically improved the hospital's throughput. It was doing a lot of orthopaedic operations, which involved a large number of instruments, she said.

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- The Nelson Mail

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