Twenty-four local hospitals will be upgraded next year to ensure non-COVID patients are safe when COVID patients are being treated, Health Minister, Andrew Little has announced.
This includes projects announced last week to add ICU capacity to some hospitals, the Minister said today.
“With high vaccination rates and better treatments and prevention methods, we are shifting to better support planned and routine care while also safely caring for COVID-19 patients,” Mr Little said.
“Treating COVID patients can be disruptive to other treatment as additional precautions are taken for infection prevention and control. Today’s announcements are about minimising that disruption.
“We asked DHB regions to prioritise projects that would strengthen local hospitals to provide planned and routine care in the age of COVID-19, and could start as soon as possible in 2022, with some projects completed as early as March.”
The Minister said the Government will fund 36 different local hospital upgrades throughout the country, and the operational costs to support them, at a total cost of $644 million from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. This includes the ICU and other upgrades at North Shore, Tauranga and Christchurch that were announced last week.
“We will also add 75 new standard inpatient beds in hospitals,” he said.
“Additionally, 355 existing inpatient beds will be converted into isolation or negative pressure environments, and a number of hospitals will have ventilation upgrades. These upgrades will allow routine and planned care to continue and patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 to be treated, while helping to protect all patients, visitors and staff from the virus.”
The upgrades include 23 new ICU/HDU beds, as well as eight temporary bed conversions to ICU.
“New Zealand’s success in responding to the pandemic means there has never been more than 11 COVID-19 patients in ICU at any one time. The vast majority of people who get COVID won’t need to go to hospital, let alone need an ICU bed. Increasing ICU/HDU capacity is part of the wider plan to rebuild our health system,” Mr Little said.