Mayor calls for full ED for Porirua
Porirua’s mayor says a major earthquake will render the city ’’an island without a hospital’’.
Mike Tana is calling for a full emergency service to be provided at Kenepuru Hospital as part of preparation for when ‘‘the big one’’ hits.
‘‘We’ve been told we could be cut off from everything else and we need to be able to look after our people.’’
But the Capital & Coast District Health Board said the city would not be cut off by an earthquake, as Kenepuru was well equipped to transform into an emergency service in a disaster.
Last week it was reported Wellington’s disaster planners were preparing for the possibility a major quake would fracture the region so severely it would split into seven ‘‘islands’’.
The fear was a rupture of magnitude 7.5 or greater along the Wellington Fault could see Porirua cut off from the capital – and its hospital – by crumbled infrastructure.
Roads such as State Highway 1 would be inaccessible in the event of an adjacent cliff falling.
Tana said it made sense for a city the size of Porirua to have a fully-equipped hospital and not to have to rely on Wellington Hospital’s emergency service.
‘‘Everyone’s sinking money into making sure the buildings aren’t going to fall down around our ears, but nothing’s been done over medical care. We’re a growing population, what’s the price of resilience?’’
But CCDHB’s executive director strategy, innovation and performance Rachel Haggerty said Kenepuru was equipped for a natural disaster.
‘‘In the event of an emergency, like a major earthquake, Kene- puru Hospital would play a key role in providing emergency care. It is well equipped to respond in an emergency – it has operating theatres, emergency supplies, and a helipad. It does not require a permanent emergency department to do this.
‘‘Additional resources, including staff, would be allocated depending on the nature of the emergency, and the level of health services required.’’ A permanent emergency service in Porirua would not be considered by the board as it would be a duplication of services when money could be better spent bolstering general practice, she said.
‘‘An emergency department is more than just having staff on hand overnight, it is about having the specialist equipment and facilities available on site to support it.’’ This included a laboratory, X-rays, a range of specialist doctors and the ability to perform urgent surgery.
In 2016, Kenepuru Hospital’s after-hours service was earmarked for nightly closure due to trouble staffing the night shifts.
Last week CCDHB announced it would keep the after-hours doctor services and increase staff on the late afternoon to 11pm shift.