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New Southern Cross Central Lakes Hospital opens in Queenstown

Friday , 10 December 2021 by Sherryl Arneil

A new independent hospital for the Central Lakes region, the Southern Cross Central Lakes Hospital, was formally opened this evening, offering the local community more convenient access to elective surgical services.

The celebration was held onsite at Kawarau Park, Lake Hayes Estate. A small group of representatives from Southern Cross Healthcare (SCHL), Central Lakes Trust (CLT), Ngāi Tahu, Southern District Health Board (SDHB), local government, and others were there to officially open and bless the new hospital.

With the iconic Remarkables mountain range as backdrop to the new hospital, the ceremony began with the unveiling of a special pounamu blessed by Ngāi Tahu, followed by speeches, and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque by Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) mayor, Jim Boult.

The hospital, which includes three operating theatres and 13 inpatient beds, each with their own ensuite, is a fifty-fifty joint venture between SCHL and CLT. Constructed by Queenstown Commercial Limited, the facility is being leased to the joint venture and SCHL will now manage the facility with Central Lakes Trust as the investment partner.

Southern Cross Healthcare CEO Chris White acknowledged the achievement.

“We are extremely pleased to be standing here today, with the hospital complete. Despite the challenges of various COVID-19 lockdowns, excellent progress was made on the build and the hospital was handed over from the developer, Queenstown Commercial on time.

“The surgical equipment and furnishings have been going in since the building was handed over and staff will spend the next few weeks over the holiday period ensuring everything is in place and working, ready to begin operations in January 2022, by which time the hospital will employ around 35 people with more starting in March when the hospital starts admitting inpatients,” he said.

The SDHB has contracted the hospital to undertake various elective surgical procedures, including a regular weekly operating list for acute orthopaedic procedures which will save patients the need to travel to Invercargill for treatment.

Chris Fleming CEO of Southern District Health Board is pleased that theatre capacity for the region is being increased with the new Queenstown facility.

“This new hospital allows us to provide more convenient services to our Queenstown and Central Lakes population and relieves the existing pressure on our services in Invercargill and Dunedin,” he said.

“Southern Cross identified Queenstown/Central Lakes as a high growth area that needed better access to surgical services at least a decade ago. Today, it is a reality. We are delighted to be working in close collaboration with the SDHB and the clinical staff at Lakes Hospital,” Mr White said.

“The plan is to begin low complexity day surgery in one theatre, before bringing a second theatre on stream in March when inpatient services will also begin.

Over time, an increasing schedule of specialist surgery is planned, including orthopaedics, ophthalmology, urology, gynaecology, plastic, and general surgery. The hospital will not be providing accident and emergency services but will be funded by ACC to provide surgery for qualifying injured patients.

“Southern Cross has developed a strong partnership with CLT and we value the focus on what is good for the local community they service,” he said.

Central Lakes Trust CEO Susan Finlay said opening the hospital is a huge milestone for the community.

“A public open day is planned for early next year so we can share this fantastic local asset with the community. People will be able to go behind the scenes to experience parts of the hospital not usually accessible to the public.”

“It has been a privilege to be in a joint venture with Southern Cross Healthcare. We know that Southern Cross Healthcare are experts in their service delivery model and this new hospital will complement the existing Queenstown Lakes Hospital and Southern DHB services; a partnership critical to ensuring the public/private benefit from the hospital and providing real tangible results for our wider Central Lakes community,” she said.

“This is the core of why we invested. It puts a certain amount of the Trust’s portfolio in areas that can have strong reward for our community - offering less travel and less family inconvenience for those requiring surgery. It was important for CLT that this hospital was accessible not only to those with health insurance, but also ACC patients, DHB patients – in fact, the whole community.”

QLDC mayor Jim Boult said, “I’m delighted to see the new Southern Cross Central Lakes Hospital opening so shortly after construction commenced. This is a wonderful addition to the service provided by the DHB at Lakes District Hospital.

“While Lakes provides an outstanding service, particularly for accident and emergency, we have long needed a facility that provides a local option for elective surgery which does not require major hospital level treatment. Folk in our area have had to put up with the requirement to travel to either Dunedin or Invercargill for many years for day surgery or tests and our new facility will negate the need for that.

“I was delighted when the DHB made the commitment to fund community use of the Southern Cross Central Lakes Hospital, effectively providing the services which previously required a trip out of town.

“I wish to congratulate Southern Cross and the Central Lakes Trust for their vision, their commitment and the outstanding achievement of completing such a major project during a global pandemic.”

Southern Cross Central Lakes Hospital website: