Future of Galbraith Building undecided

Media release 21 May 2018 | Counties Manukau Health has accepted independent reports that confirm the Galbraith building is ‘earthquake prone’.

Board chair, Vui Mark Gosche, says the Galbraith building is over 50 years old and in that time, although the quality of the building has not changed, building standards have.

He says results of a detailed expert seismic assessment, which has been peer reviewed, showed that when compared with a new building with the same use, on the same site, the Galbraith building is 20% of New Building Standard (NBS).

“The building’s rating is also affected because of the importance of the role that the building would be expected to perform post-disaster.”

Mr Gosche says external advice showed that to bring the Galbraith building up to just the minimum building standard (35% NBS) would take two to three years of strengthening work and cost more than $74m (excluding costs of fixing or relocating critical building services infrastructure such as power, medical gas, data).

“The Galbraith building currently houses a birthing unit, two maternity wards, early pregnancy assessment clinic, gynaecology care unit, ophthalmology clinics, plastic surgery, clinical engineering, infusion centre, blood bank, radiology and executive offices.

“Strengthening work would involve major relocation for clinical services located on levels two to five, notably the two-year relocation for Maternity wards, and Assessment Labour and Birthing Unit.”

Mr Gosche says that because of the age of the Galbraith building, there are also some issues with asbestos building materials. However there is no need for alarm as appropriate monitoring and control are in place to ensure the safety of staff, patients and visitors.

“Many public buildings, including schools and hospitals, built between the 1940s and 1980s have been built using products containing asbestos.

“Intact and undisturbed asbestos material generally does not pose a health risk and, in the case of Galbraith, a program of asbestos remediation is underway including asbestos removal and repair work, air monitoring and control.”

At its meeting last week, the Board was presented with a range of options from nil strengthening to bringing the Galbraith building up to a standard where it would be serviceable following a  disaster (>67% NBS).

Mr Gosche says the Board has now asked management to provide more detail on two options, - one option which includes strengthening the exits to the building and a ‘nil strengthening’ option, before the Board makes any decision about the future of the Galbraith building.

“Staff, patient and visitor safety is obviously a priority for the Board.”

Mr Gosche says Auckland is an area of low earthquake risk when compared to Wellington, Christchurch and even Hamilton.

“The earthquake risk of an area affects the timeframes building owners have to complete building strengthening work or demolition. For example, in high risk areas like Wellington, owners of priority buildings (like hospitals) that are earthquake prone have 7.5 years to strengthen or demolish compared to the same buildings in Auckland which have 35 years (and are not classed as priority buildings).

Auckland Council has been notified of the final results of the seismic assessment of the Galbraith building. Next steps are expected to include Counties Manukau Health being issued with a statutory Earthquake-Prone Building (EPB) notice, which must be displayed in a prominent place in the building; and having the details of the building added to a new national register of earthquake-prone buildings.

Information about the Galbraith building will be made available to staff, patients and visitors, including at the entrance to the building.

- Ends –

CM Health media line 09 250 9857


Independent reports by  Holmes (PDF, 15 MB)  and  Beca (PDF, 6.8 MB)  are available
Board report  Galbraith Assessment Update (PDF, 1.6 MB)  is also available

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