Mental health unit ‘not fit for purpose’
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.