A $40-million facility for older patients to be built at Waikato Hospital will be the first of its kind in the country.
Health Minister Tony Ryall was in Hamilton last week to announce the government-approved project to improve services for older people and rehabilitation patients in the Waikato.
The new Older Persons and Rehabilitation Services building will be built across the road from the main hospital campus with construction planned to start early next year.
Waikato Hospital spokesperson Mary Anne Gill said the facility would consolidate a number of wards that were currently spread throughout the hospital.
“This will be a first in New Zealand. We will bring together mental health with older persons, and older persons in rehabilitation, together into one building.
“We’ll be leading the way in terms of the model of care we’ll be providing.”
The new facility will have 113 extra beds and will cater for mental health, stroke, and rehabilitation patients.
Mrs Gill said it would be a purpose-built space for assessment and rehabilitation teams to work in the most efficient way possible.
“It’s going to be so much easier staff-wise having everything in one facility. At the moment they are literally spread all over the place.”
The focus on older people is part of an initiative that was first raised two years ago to accommodate for the needs of an ageing population.
The number of over-65s in Waikato is expected to increase from just over 40,000 to just over 80,000 in the next 15 years.
Mrs Gill said people are living longer because they are healthier and this had placed increased demand on health services. The new facility would take steps to meet that demand.
The project is expected to provide the region with 100 extra contracting jobs over the next two years.
Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker said the development was not only positive for the elderly in the community but also for Hamilton’s economy.
The project is being funded from DHB resources and the facility is planned to open late 2013.