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New Endoscopy Unit Work Begins

The Whangarei Hospital endoscopy service currently operates from two separate locations; one in the theatre complex and the second in the medical outpatient zone. The service is to be relocated and consolidated to provide a more streamlined service for both acute and elective endoscopy procedures. A new unit is to be built in the old […]

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Northland DHB Hospital Redevelopment Private: Tumanako

Project Brief

Northland District Health Board’s (NDHB) objective is to provide the best possible health services in appropriate facilities for the people of Northland.

In March 2008 the Whangarei Hospital Site Master Plan was approved by the NDHB Board.  A Business case for Stage 1 of the Site Master Plan was developed and submitted to the Ministry of Health in September 2008.

In April 2009, NDHB’s Business Case was approved by the Ministry of Health to implement Stage 1 of its Site Master Plan for the redevelopment of Whangarei Hospital. The estimated cost of Stage 1 is $25.11M and comprises the construction of a new Mental Health Inpatient Unit together with enabling works for future redevelopment stages.

Once the Business Case was approved by the Ministry of Health, a project team lead by Brett Halvorson, Project Director was established and the Project Manager, Architect and Health Planner, Quantity Surveyor were selected.  Following a tender process specialised design consultants also joined the project team; Structural, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Fire, Data and Hydraulic Engineers, Traffic Designers and Security and Fire Sprinkler Design Consultants.   In September 2009 the NDHB’s User Group was formed who worked closely with the project team to design the new Mental Health Inpatient Unit.

Through the User Group meetings the Concept Design evolved, a series of hand drawn sketches which focuses on the internal configuration of rooms within the building.  In January 2010 the Concept Design was approved by the NDHB Board for the new 2,200 square metre Mental Health Inpatient Unit.  The User Group then moved into the Preliminary Design phase where more detail is added to the Concept Design and the plan is converted into an electronic CAD format.  Doors and bed spaces are drawn on the plan and the rooms are drawn to scale.  Flooring is also specified.  At this phase of planning NDHB provided a Preliminary Design report to the Ministry of Health.

The third stage of design, Developed, involved working through the layout of each room and designing componentry.  At the final stage, Detailed design the rooms become more life like with doors, beds, sinks and curtain tracking and decisions are made around the colour scheme and materials used within the facility.  The design is now comprehensively coordinated with other disciplines.  Landscaping design is now also completed.

At each of the above design stages the User group, Project Control Group, Board Sub-Committee and NDHB Board are required to approve the design.

The relationship between deprivation and health, including mental illness is well known.  Mental Health Services is one of the six strategic priorities outlined in the District Strategic plan for NDHB (2005 to 2010).

NDHB need to continue to invest in expanding mental health services to meet the need and to meet national Blueprint criteria.

The design of the new 25 bed unit will be informed by the Mental Health and Addiction Service Model of Care.  The Model of Care being implemented is a district model with community treatment as its core component.  This will be integrated with access to acute inpatient services for the comparatively small proportion of people who require admission.

Because of the geographic population spread, distance from the Whangarei Inpatient Unit is a barrier to accessing mental health services.  The Model of Care calls for the provision of sub-acute services locally.  This will be done through 3 sub-acute units.  The Far North sub-acute is successfully operating already.  The Mid North sub-acute unit opened in mid 2010.  Plans are underway to establish the Whangarei sub-acute unit.

The existing inpatient unit was built in 1992, but is inadequate for the delivery of care that meets the standards required; it poses significant risk to the organisation, patients and their whanau, and staff.

The inadequacy of the inpatient unit has been noted by both the Ministry of Health and the Mental Health Commission.  A commitment was given to both agencies that NDHB would address these issues and this has been indicated in the District Annual Plans for the past two years.


Stage 1 investment in the evolution of NDHB’s service capability comprises:

  • The redesign of the Mental Health and Addictions Service Model of Care;
  • The provision of a new 25 bed Mental Health Inpatient Unit which supports this model and which overcomes deficiencies in the existing facility’s ability to support service provision;
  • The selection of a location for the new Mental Health Inpatient Unit which “unlocks” the hospital campus for future development; and
  • Enabling works for subsequent stages of the Site Master Plan comprising temporary car parking facilities to replace spaces being lost to the new Inpatient Unit, refurbishment of some vacant space for Medical Records, a new Kitchen and the demolition of obsolete/redundant buildings


The planned rebuild of the inpatient unit is expected to result in service and staff benefits:

  • Improved outcomes for consumers through therapeutic group activity within the unit; a safe, private environment for family contact and better observation of patients by staff.
  • Reduction in the length of stay through a therapeutic environment that facilitates recovery.
  • Reduction in risks of incidents through an ability to segregate patients.
  • Reduction in health and safety issues for staff, particularly reduction in harm to staff from violent incidents.
  • Provision of a safe environment for youth and elderly that require inpatient admission.
  • Improved staff recruitment and retention.
  • Alignment with NDHB’s strategic vision.
  • Reduction in operating and maintenance costs.

The remaining (non-Mental Health) component of Stage 1 will:

  • Prepare for the necessary developments that will ease current capacity constraints in core areas of the hospital
  • Eliminate the culturally inappropriate co-location of the kitchen and mortuary
  • Enhance the public’s access to the site via provision of additional parking, which is currently not meeting demand in terms of capacity and access.


The unit has 25 beds in total with a flexible configuration.  There are two seven-bed wards, which can be configured for male and/of female patients, and a four-bed elderly ward and four-bed child and youth ward, which can both also be flexibly configured, plus an intensive care area.

Other features include:

  • A central nurses’ station for lines of sight
  • New entrance
  • An additional private secure entrance
  • Two seclusion rooms
  • Sensory, television and art rooms
  • Gymnasium
  • Several beverage bays
  • Secure courtyards
  • A generously proportioned room for storing patient property
  • A whānau room designed like a marae
  • Elevated administration room and facilities that support the multidisciplinary team approach and allow for daily team meetings on site
  • Main plant also on upper floor with enough ceiling height to allow rooms to be serviced without having to enter rooms.