‘Hospital still being built’ says Health Minister Clark.

“‘…the new Dunedin Hospital is rock solid.’ he said” ODT 4/4/20.
This having discovered [after buying the land without doing due diligence] that the land is a deep pug swamp requiring enormously expensive deep foundations that may not support an 8-story Hospital.

Still time to rethink what may have been the worst decision for Dunedin this century?

Screen Shot 2020-04-04 at 12.19.18 PM


From: Lee Vandervis <lee@vandervision.co.nz>
Date: Tuesday, 11 April 2017 at 8:45 PM
To: EditorODT <editor@odt.co.nz>, “Nicholas. Smith” <nicholas.smith@xtra.co.nz>
Subject: FW: Hillside Hospital? Opinion piece for ODT

Hillside Hospital?
There certainly are benefits to keeping our new Hospital rebuild in the City centre, since this physical closeness helps synergies with the Medical School. There is also the desire of some Hospital visitors to access shops and facilities found near the existing Hospital.

More generally we like what we are familiar with, with some of us fearing any change, and confusing change with loss.
Change is inevitable however, since Hospitals have become increasingly technological and new Hospital design can look quite different from our current concrete high-rise. New medical technology, better access and a need for restful ‘human spaces’ means that our new Hospital can serve Dunedin and the whole Southern region better, even if it does end up looking quite different.

The premature DCC decision to push for a central-city-only rebuild of Dunedin Hospital was unfortunately made without any staff report and without any information on modern Hospital design. The agenda item was forcibly moved by ex-Labour MP Cr. Benson Pope with an unfortunate, polarising tirade against the Government, accusing Treasury of past “lunatic suggestions”, and saying “Government makes stupid decisions based on stupid treasury advice.” Mayor Cull chimed in, accusing Treasury of always going for “what is the cheapest option”, claiming ‘saving $2 – $3 million on land costs would be soon swallowed up in extra transport costs’, and that rebuilding in the central city was a “complete no-brainer”. Only 3 Councillors voted against, but it would have been at least 4 against if we had known that a $10,000+ election-style leaflet Campaign was planned playing party politics. Cr. Benson Pope inappropriately goaded one naysayer with sarcasm about his National Party connections, and branded the three Councillors (including myself) who voted against as being ‘Tories’, even though it is public knowledge that I voted for Labour candidate David Clark at the last election.

Many modern hospital designs call for a large land area of perhaps 10 hectares allowing low-rise buildings with access to restive outdoor areas, easy close parking and a safer large all-weather helicopter landing area. These modern Hospital desirables are not possible on the current site, even with the addition of a nearby block. Mayor Cull’s $2-$3 million estimate of Central Business District land costs is beyond optimistic, since as an example much cheaper land for the Stadium outside of the CBD was budgeted at $15 million but ended up costing more than $30 million.  Prime Minister English was correct to highlight land cost as an important site consideration. As well as upsetting Government and Treasury leaders, the DCC Hospital campaign will just drive up the price of pricey central city land if there are no other agreed options.

The “SOS Save Our Services” part of the DCC Hospital campaign is misleading by its very name, since all Government and Southern Partnership Group public statements have already assured us that all current services will be retained.

As for “Saving Our Site”, it is a fantastic notion that a modern Hospital can be built on the current CBD site as well as remaining operational throughout the rebuild.  Auckland’s famous Starship Hospital is not in the CBD and neither are Shortland Street, Wellington or Christchurch Hospitals! Even if our existing Ward Block is stable enough to do up rather than rebuild, it lacks the height between floors necessary for modern services ducting alignment, and is set up for shared rooms when private rooms have real advantages such as infection control. The 2015 Harvard Business Review “Better Healing from Better Hospital Design” stated: “When one of two McGill University hospitals in the Montreal region of Canada redesigned its ICU from shared to private rooms, the rate of bacterial infection decreased by more than 50%. The new ICU design also decreased the length of stay by 10%…. When hospitals provide easy access to nature, patients, employees and family members can all enjoy the benefit it provides, including reduced stress, reduced blood pressure, reduced pain and increased pain tolerance, faster recovery times, and, simply, pleasant escape from stressful situations.”

Hopefully Council may yet moderate its narrow demand, and at least accept investigation of other sites. Two sites already owned by the Government are Wakari Hospital, and Hillside Workshops. Both sites are much larger than anything that could be available in the central city and both have good existing transportation and bus access. They both offer much better parking for patients, doctors, nursing staff and visitors, and have potential for quieter cleaner restful ‘human spaces’ in a park-like setting. Neither site is far from the suggested CBD site of Cadburys. My timed drives from Cadburys carpark took 3 minutes to get to the Medical School, 5 minutes to Hillside and 7 minutes to Wakari.

Hillside has particular advantages. It is most easily accessible, next to a major shopping area, large, level, and elevated enough to avoid flooding – even when the DCC pump screens and mud-tanks were blocked.

A new Hillside Hospital would boost South Dunedin development more than detract from central city businesses that already have the University, Polytechnic, Dental School, and Medical School, – all needing more space and parking. The Polytechnic new $60 million building program and the University $230 million building program will add to central pressures.

Building a modern Hospital is much more complex than building a modern hotel, which also takes years to design. We should celebrate our unrivaled wealth of medical specialists and teachers and provide them with the best teaching Hospital possible within achievable budgets, be that centrally located or a few minutes away. To that end it is vital to keep an open mind, especially in an election year by avoiding party-political campaigning, and aspiring to a better new Hospital, not just saving what we have. Decision-makers must wait until all the expert information is gathered to know what is the best kind of Hospital for our future, and then pull together for the best result in the best place.

Cr. Lee Vandervis

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Ground conditions on hospital site ‘uniformly bad’

By Mike Houlahan


A drilling rig operates in Cumberland St outside the former Cadbury factory in August, as engineers conducted ground assessments for the new Dunedin Hospital. Photo: Gerard O’Brien

Some services may be squeezed out of the new Dunedin hospital due to budget concerns, clinicians fear.

Sources have told the Otago Daily Times they are concerned important services could be left out of the buildings due to concerns over a potential overrun in the budget of the $1billion-plus project.

Issues with the inner-city site, particularly concerning the cost of piles to build on reclaimed land, were believed to be concerning hospital planners and behind a bid to reduce the footprint of the new hospital.

Pete Hodgson

Southern Partnership Group chairman Pete Hodgson played down budget concerns and predicted the new hospital would be a similar size to the current one, with more surgical wards and larger emergency and intensive care units.

”Eighteen months ago, the hospital scale had to be reduced by a substantial amount, and we are doing that process again, but clinicians are noticing it more because planning is further advanced and they can see it taking shape,” Mr Hodgson said.

”By the end of stage two of planning, which will be this side of Christmas, we will be in a position to offer a great deal more certainty than clinicians have at the moment, and I think it is the uncertainty that is getting to them at the moment.”

The project’s Clinical Leadership Group, a committee of medical personnel assisting with hospital design, wanted the buildings to work well for patients and provide the services they envisioned, chairman John Adams said.

However, the rebuild project was faced with a ”very complex situation”, and clinical staff were involved in ongoing discussions about the function of their units in the future hospital.

”The crucial thing for us to make sure that when the final design is in, that the design meets the requirements for clinical functioning,” Dr Adams said.

”Design is ongoing, we are at the second of five stages, and it is premature to make a definitive comment on the size of the hospital because there are a number of balls in the air at the moment and it is very difficult to make a definitive comment on where things will land.”

Clinicians and the CLG would continue to raise any issues where they feel the clinical functioning of the hospital might be compromised, Mr Adams said.

”Whatever the size of the hospital, the design and functioning of the hospital needs to meet the clinicians’ view and wishes for how it will work and how the clinicians will work together.”

The new Dunedin Hospital was originally planned to include an eight or nine-storey main inpatient building with a smaller six-storey outpatient and day surgery building alongside, providing about 50 more beds than the current hospital.

Mr Hodgson expected those configurations would remain roughly the same, although final decisions were yet to be made.

Difficulties in building on the hospital site mirror issues faced by the city’s other major construction project on reclaimed land, Forsyth Barr Stadium.

For that build, piles had to be driven through a layer of soft marine silt to reach firmer ground.

The stadium’s 530 piles are at an average depth of 18m, some as shallow as 15m and others as deep as 25m.

In July, further geotechnical testing was done on the hospital site, with drilling down to 30m.

”The foundations will undoubtedly be more expensive; we have been saying that for a year now,” Mr Hodgson said.

”The only good thing about where the hospital is going is that it is uniformly bad, which I understand to be better than unevenly bad. Wherever we put the hospital in the CBD, we would run into that problem.”

The difference in price between foundations on bedrock and on less suitable ground was about 3% of total budget, Mr Hodgson said.

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Michelle Arrowsmith said it had been known for some time that considerable ground works and preparation would be needed.

”There are several ways to manage the ground conditions and we are currently working through the options.”

While the size of the new hospital was still to be finalised, it would be ”significantly bigger” than the 63,000sqm of the current hospital, but smaller than the 105,000sqm proposed in the original master plan, she said.

”The key focus is on getting the new hospital’s functionality right, not the square metres.

”Dunedin needs a hospital that makes more efficient use of space than the current hospital: it needs to be the right size hospital that is affordable in terms of building and running costs, with capacity for future growth.”


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3 Responses to ‘Hospital still being built’ says Health Minister Clark.

  1. Gary says:

    Lee Didn’t have to do due diligence Just ask the ODT Via Naylor love.about the trouble the ODT had when they put the new press in.

  2. Brian Carnahan says:

    I always said the site the new hospital is going on was the wrong place. Wakari would have been a much better site lots of land up there. Or as Lee says the Hillside site which would have been great for South Dunedin businesses.

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