Men­tal health unit ‘not fit for pur­pose’

Kapi-Mana News - - OUT & ABOUT - RACHEL THOMAS

The Porirua men­tal health fa­cil­ity that houses New Zealand’s most dan­ger­ous pa­tients is not fit for pur­pose, doc­u­ments re­veal.

The all-male fa­cil­ity Pure­hurehu, sit­u­ated on Kenepuru Hos­pi­tal grounds in Porirua, has not had any up­grades or ren­o­va­tions since it opened, in 1992, and is fi­nally in line for ren­o­va­tions.

It’s home to 14 pa­tients. One of them is para­noid schiz­o­phrenic Richard Hawkins, who mur­dered his brother in 2002.

With­held Cap­i­tal & Coast Dis­trict Health Board (CCDHB) min­utes, ob­tained through Labour, re­veal the build­ing is ‘‘no longer fit for pur­pose, does not com­ply with fire reg­u­la­tions, does not meet com­pli­ance for build­ing code and does not meet best prac­tice for men­tal health stan­dards’’.

The board has ap­proved a ma­jor multi-mil­lion dol­lar up­grade and ex­ten­sion to be built along­side the ex­ist­ing build­ing.

When ques­tioned about how long Pure­hurehu had not been fit for pur­pose, the board replied the sit­u­a­tion had ‘‘slowly de­vel­oped over time’’.

CCDHB men­tal health, ad­dic­tions and in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­ity gen­eral man­ager Nigel Fair­ley said since the fa­cil­ity was opened other units had been de­signed that were more mod­ern.

‘‘The fa­cil­ity needs up­grad­ing to prop­erly re­flect mod­ern foren­sic men­tal health care.’’

Pa­tients will re­main in the fa­cil­ity dur­ing the ren­o­va­tions.

‘‘No one, for this pur­pose, is moved out. I don’t think any­one should have con­cerns at all and the dis­rup­tion to pa­tients will be at most, min­i­mal.’’

The build will not in­crease bed ca­pac­ity, he said.

‘‘There will be a ma­jor re-build of the In­ten­sive Psy­chi­atric Care part of the unit and up­grad­ing through­out the en­tire unit of com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy and alarms – in­clud­ing smoke and fire de­tec­tion.’’

When ques­tioned on the fire risk, Fair­ley said: ‘‘it ab­so­lutely meets fire reg­u­la­tions, but those have been changed and up­dated ... if we weren’t do­ing any­thing it would still meet the code.’’

The unit is di­vided into two ar­eas: an ad­mis­sions area and a re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion area.

Fair­ley ex­pected the con­tract to go to ten­der in May. Con­struc­tion should be com­pleted within the next 12 to 18 months.

Fam­i­lies and pa­tients were be­ing kept in the loop, Fair­ley said.

Min­istry of Health and Health Min­is­ter Jonathan Cole­man are aware of the project, but all con­trol and fund­ing is through CCDHB.

Pure­hurehu needs up­grad­ing to re­flect mod­ern foren­sic men­tal health care, Cap­i­tal & Coast DHB Nigel Fair­ley says.

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