Staff at Waikato Hospital celebrated the first day of Spring with the official opening of a new 27 bed ward catering for geriatric, medical and orthopaedic rehabilitation patients.
The new ward, which will cost $4m a year to run, is the final step to complete the Older Persons and Rehabilitation building which opened in 2013. The building was future-proofed by adding a shell ward to be opened when demand increased.
Waikato DHB Board chair Bob Simcock and OPR consumer advisor Pat Gregory, cut the ribbon to open the new OPR5 ward in L1 of the Older Persons and Rehabilitation building, which will start taking patients on Monday.
Mr Simcock said: “Opening a new ward is not something I get to do very often and it’s a great feeling. Our population is ageing and our projections show demand for our services are going to grow in the future and we need to ensure the services we are offering are what the community needs. We also need to ensure that we are using our beds as effectively as we can and improving the way patients move through our hospital.”
The ward opening is part of a number of initiatives at the Waikato Hospital to help manage this huge growth in demand for services. These include increasing bed capacity, enhancing theatre usage, improving patient flow throughout the hospital and increasing the number of doctors and nurses in its busy Emergency Department.
Recently appointed charge nurse manager Sarah-Mae Glover said the OPR5 team of nurses, doctors, allied health and other support staff, are ready to go. “Staff have been really excited about this opening, our new team were selected for their positive attitudes and high caliber of passion and skills in working with an older population. The ward is equipped, stocked with supplies and will be ready to accept patients on Monday,” she said.
Executive Director of Waikato Hospital Services, Brett Paradine said: “The number of people coming to Waikato Hospital ED has increased 20 per cent over the last five years. Patients are also spending longer in the hospital, which is putting more pressure on the available hospital beds.
“Waikato Hospital ED saw a 16 per cent increase in attendances in June this year compared to June 2016, which equates to more than 1,000 additional attendances in the month. That significant increase is well beyond the previous predictions.
“We have already implemented an overflow bed policy which identified additional beds on 24 wards, in family rooms or treatment rooms, throughout the hospital. These are being used for patients who are waiting for discharge in times of high bed occupancy, when inpatients in the Emergency Department experience delays moving into a specialty ward bed.
“While we are investing substantial sums in increasing the hospital’s capacity it is not going to completely solve the demand issue which is growing day by day and we need to work closely with our partners in primary care to help us manage this demand.”