Visitors to Wairarapa Hospital may notice more tradies in the corridors than usual – but it’s nothing to do with workplace accidents.

Seismic bracing work has started this week, with Holmes Construction expecting to be on site through the Christmas period.

In July, the Wairarapa District Health Board [DHB] revealed Parts of Wairarapa Hospital’s main building failed to measure up to earthquake standards.

Hospitals are required to meet the highest earthquake rating, importance level four [IL4], which means they must be operational within one hour of a major earthquake.

The hospital building was completed in 2006 at a cost of $30m.

Improved restraints of the mechanical plant and services in the hospital ceiling are being installed to engineering design plans.

Around 90 separate bracing units will be fitted, with most of them expected to be completed by the end of the year.

DHB chief executive Adri Isbister said it was originally planned to have the installation finished by Christmas, “but it is really important for us that it is as least disruptive as possible for our hospital flow and patient services”.

She said the DHB chose to put less workers in the ceiling for longer, rather than a larger team working in multiple areas at once, “so we can continue to achieve business as usual operations in almost all areas of work”.
The bracing work had not disrupted any patient appointments at the hospital yet, and it remained business at usual on site.

“We may have to schedule some days where we will keep a theatre free, for example, while work is going on overhead, but we’d plan for that in advance,” Isbister said.

“We don’t want to disrupt any booked surgical appointments.

“We are well supported by an experienced, expert project team, who are ahead of schedule and keeping us very well informed,” Isbister said.

What can you expect?

Some of the work in the ceiling may be noisy.

Within the hospital, people will see cordoned areas where the Holmes Construction team will be accessing the ceiling space and foot traffic will be diverted to enable access to ceiling areas.

Information about the seismic project will be available in all hospital waiting areas.