New Akaroa hospital delay frustrates

Last updated 14:28 01/02/2013
Akaroa Hospital
Iain McGregor
CLOSED: Akaroa Hospital is not considered safe for use.

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Akaroa residents will have to wait at least two years for a new health facility to replace their earthquake-prone hospital.

About 150 people attended a meeting at the Akaroa Area School gymnasium on Thursday night  for an update on the community's health services from Canterbury District Health Board chief executive David Meates.

The town's hospital was closed in December 2011 after detailed engineering evaluations found the building met less than 10 per cent of the building code.

Meates said planning was under way for an integrated family health centre that could consist of ''a variety of services'', including a medical centre, physiotherapy service, community nursing and support, a pharmacy and rest-home care.

Frustrated residents demanded answers, with many wanting the hospital rebuilt on the same site.

They asked how a new centre would be funded and how long its establishment would take.

Meates said he could not give ''any clear answers'', but the insurance payout from the damaged hospital would be less than $100,000, and all options, including private funding, would be considered.

He said that once a location was finalised, the board, in collaboration with the town's health steering committee, could fast-track the design of the centre, but it would take about two years.

Akaroa resident Des Hardy said there was nothing wrong with the services being provided before the quake, and  it was unfair that the community would have to wait ''such a long time for our health services to be reinstated''.

Meates said the town needed to ''future-proof'', instead of looking for a quick fix that would ''ultimately eat up capital'' that could be used to build a new health centre.

Former Akaroa Hospital nurse manager Gloria Calcutt hoped for a ''firm plan and a firm time line''.

''This is the third meeting we've had and it feels like we're not getting anywhere,'' she said.

Calcutt said she cared for two dying elderly residents at the end of last year who had been ''left to their own devices'' because there was not enough home-help staff available to look after them and the rest home was full.

Three sites are being considered for a new centre - the hospital site up the hill in Onuku Rd, the BP Meats site in Rue Lavaud and the site of Pompallier House in Rue Viard.

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- The Press

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