MEDIA RELEASES

Dargaville Hospital celebrates 60th birthday

Sixty balloons were released by staff and well-wishers last week to mark the 60th anniversary of the opening of Dargaville Hospital last week.

The official opening of Dargaville Hospital took place on 25 February 1956, with local dignitaries and a brass band in attendance.

Other key events in the history of Dargaville Hospital include the opening in 1971 of a maternity annex at Dargaville Hospital, following the closure of the maternity ward at Te Kopuru Hospital.

In 1988, Dargaville Hospital was temporarily cut off by flooding in the wake of Cyclone Bola, which delivered some of the heaviest rainfall totals for a single storm in the history of New Zealand. Other floods since then have also made it a struggle for staff to get to work.

In 1994, surgical services at Dargaville Hospital were closed, resulting in community concern. Then-mayor Peter Brown went to Parliament and obtained a suspensory loan to purchase a 46 percent share in a number of the hospital’s key buildings to ensure it remained as a hospital, providing reassurance to the community.

A joint venture board was formed, with the Kaipara Community Health Trust representing the community’s 46 percent share and providing a consumer voice alongside Northland DHB’s 54 percent share.

Dargaville Medical Centre relocated from the centre of Dargaville to the hospital site in 2000, strengthening the integration between the two providers. Dargaville Hospital operations manager Jen Thomas says this is a great example of the ‘one-stop shop’ model of healthcare which has led to a number of new initiatives. Iwi provider Te Ha Oranga and Hospice Kaipara’s offices and nursing staff are also based on the site.

The hospital is made up of single-level buildings and patient rooms have windows and doors that open out on to terraces overlooking gardens. Jen says the atmosphere, along with community facilities and strong fundraising support for new hospital, contribute to an average length of service by staff at the hospital of more than 15 years.

The two cakes at the ceremony were cut by the longest-serving staff member, enrolled nurse Heather Carter, who began working at the hospital in 1966 when it was just 10 years old, and the most recent starter, clinical head Dr Scott Wilson, who joined late last year.



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