Leaky public hospital could be first of many

By Martin Johnston

5:30 AM Thursday Jul 14, 2011

The 105-bed Mason Clinic needs major repairs. Photo / Richard Robinson

The 105-bed Mason Clinic needs major repairs. Photo / Richard Robinson

The leaky building crisis has hit a public hospital for the first time, and an industry expert expects more to follow.

The 105-bed Mason Clinic, Auckland’s regional forensic psychiatry facility, needs major repairs, its operator confirmed yesterday.

The Waitemata District Health Board’s secure clinic in Carrington Rd, Mt Albert, houses offenders with mental illnesses or intellectual disabilities. It serves the Northland-Auckland region and, for the intellectually disabled, the North Island north of Taupo.

The prospect of leaky hospitals adds to the Government’s headaches over leaking private homes and schools. It has been estimated that fixing buildings at the 160 schools identified earlier this year as leaky will cost $1.5 billion.

The Mason Clinic opened in 1992. At least $15 million has been spent on erecting the original and later buildings, which total eight units in six main buildings.

Alan Wilson, the health board’s chief operating officer, said an investigation of the clinic by building consultants CoveKinloch in May found that extensive remedial work was required.

“Five inpatient units have been assessed as having significant moisture problems. These units account for 78 beds out of a total of 105 beds at the facility.

“These units will require recladding and in some instances reroofing.

“The units have been deemed safe for occupation, although the issues identified with each building will need to be addressed as continued moisture ingress will, over time, pose health risks.”

The clinic’s office and administration centre is also leaking.

Three areas have been deemed unfit for occupation: one bedroom in a secure rehabilitation unit; a flat used by the visiting families of patients; and the cultural worker’s office.

Mr Wilson said the cost of the repair work was still being worked out and a plan was being developed for consideration by board members.

“It will, however, most likely involve fixing one building at a time, with affected residents in each inpatient unit transferred to a temporary facility while this work takes place.

“We are still looking at various location options for this temporary facility, including off-site.”

When asked if the DHB had started any legal action over the weather-tightness failure of the buildings and the repair costs, a spokesman said it had sought “a legal opinion”.

Leaky building expert Philip O’Sullivan, of building and quantity surveying firm Prendos, said he was aware of leaky resthome/hospitals, but the Mason Clinic was the first public hospital he was aware of to be identified as leaking.

“If it is the first, it won’t be the last. It’s no surprise.”

He said the same poor workmanship, designs and materials had been used in hospitals as those that had led to the leaky home crisis.

Health Minister Tony Ryall’s office said the Mason Clinic was the only leaky public hospital of which the National Health Board had been notified.

By Martin Johnston | Email Martin

Original article in NZH: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/health/news/article.cfm?c_id=204&objectid=10738344

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