The Waikato DHB’s move into the CBD is on track – with staff set to move into the reburbished old Farmers building in the new year.
The DHB is consolidating services from nine locations across the CBD into the refurbished offices on the corner of Alexandra Street and Collingwood Street in Hamilton. The offices will house Population Health, some Mental Health services, the Diabetes Service, Disability Support Link, Information Services, Human Resources, Accounts, Payroll and the Strategy and Funding team.
These staff, around 700 of them, will move into the CBD offices in the first quarter of 2018.
There will also be patient/client consulting rooms for mental health and the diabetes service. The three street frontages, plus easy access to public transport, with a bus stop immediately outside, will improve access for clients and community groups.
The DHB has also leased the ninth floor of the KPMG building on the same site, to use as office and meeting room space, and some staff are already working from there, including HealthShare, a partner organisation.
Chris Cardwell, Executive Director Facilities and Business, explained that consolidating several services in the CBD made sense as existing CBD offices were nearing the end of their leases, and it was more efficient and cost effective to manage work space within a single connected footprint.
“We decided to lease the former Farmers Building in Hamilton CBD as a base for these services because of the unique footprint and scale. During the negotiations for the lease we were also able to leverage the transaction to lease the ninth floor of the KPMG Tower, directly above the main two level tenancy in the same cluster of buildings. We saw this as a good opportunity to provide more back office space for staff and co-locate more people together, to encourage collaborative working in a more flexible work space and help create future capacity.”
Moving staff from the hospital campus to the CBD will also take pressure of the hospital site and free up more space to use for clinical work.
Mr Cardwell said that just like all the other DHB facilities and campuses, the CBD offices would be no smoking. The DHB will also be encouraging the Hamilton City Council to make the streets directly outside the office, designated as no smoking areas too.
“As a public health promoter, it’s important we lead the way in trying to improve the health of the community. Any health professional will tell you that the number one thing you can do for your health is to give up smoking, or not take it up in the first place,” said Mr Cardwell. “The last thing we want is people standing around outside the offices smoking, it’s bad for our staff working inside the building and it creates a bad impression for the public.”
Vanessa Williams, General Manager of the Hamilton Central Business Association said they were very excited to welcome the DHB in to the former Farmers building in Alexandra Street.
“An additional 700 people based in the centre of the CBD will add an increased vibrancy to the city by worker numbers, foot traffic and the flow on effects to surrounding businesses. Hamilton’s CBD is continuing to develop as a business centre with vacancy rates at their lowest since 2005 and with an increasing national interest from businesses wanting to relocate here, Hamilton’s profile is continuing to build as a desirable commercial business hub,” she said.
The Hockin Building on the Waikato Hospital campus is also being refurbished to address the unsatisfactory accommodation configuration in the building and make it more efficient. This will mean the DHB can move staff into the building from portacoms on the campus over the next 18 months, freeing up space on site to develop more clinical areas.
Mr Cardwell said: “The Hockin building has heavily partitioned workspaces and has had no investment for many years. The refurbishment will enable us to make more efficient use of the space, move more staff into this building and create a more collaborative environment with modern open plan working and shared meeting room space. We will also improve the public space in this building.”
He added: “All these facility changes not only let us manage our use of space and costs better but bring team members together, which helps services work better. While our hospital is important, health services are not just about hospitals and this is an example of us extending our capability into the heart of our community.
“We are also very pleased that by concentrating our large workforce in this precinct of the CBD we can give a big boost to the vibrancy of the city centre.”