Women's hospital faces upheaval

GEORGINA STYLIANOU
Last updated 05:00 04/08/2012

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Earthquake repairs to one of the South Island's safest buildings might force expectant mothers and newborn babies to shift.

Christchurch Women's Hospital will undergo repairs at a cost of up to $4 million.

The work would be "incredibly disruptive" to services, Canterbury District Health Board chief executive David Meates said.

"These repairs involve the floor coating on every level being totally stripped back and then having resin injected into the concrete," Meates said.

Patients and staff would probably have to move temporarily.

The 10-storey hospital is the only building in the South Island that has a base isolator designed to withstand powerful earthquakes.

Meates said the building had performed "very well", and engineers had expected cosmetic damage.

"In an earthquake, the base isolator absorbs the energy, but the building really does move.

"It's designed to, but that means that there are cracks and cosmetic issues on every floor."

The board approved $3m of repairs, but Meates said it could cost up to $4m.

Board corporate services manager Murray Dickson said the repairs would cause "significant disruption to services".

"If relocating is required, it's expected to be within Christchurch Women's Hospital or the Christchurch Hospital campus, not to other facilities," he said.

The Canterbury-West Coast chairwoman of the New Zealand College of Midwives, Kate Nicoll, said it would be "business as usual" for women and midwives.

She said the college was not expecting any disruptions.

"Women and their families can be assured that the high standard of maternity care will continue to be delivered, unaffected by the ongoing repair work, much of which we understand is cosmetic.”

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