I read your editorial with great interest as it reminded me of the fact hospitals can be built as monuments rather than efficient buildings to deliver efficient medical care.
This fact was highlighted for me in 2014 at a conference on pre-fabricated construction when Aladin Niazmand of Healthcare Projects International made a presentation on the cost and time savings of prefabricated construction of hospitals.
He pointed out that nine of the world’s most expensive buildings included two hospitals from Australia. The rankings have altered since but you’ll still find Adelaide Hospital in the top 25 and, on a cost per square metre basis it looks like it was the most expensive in the world to construct.
There is an annual health care trade fair held in Dubai that features a wide range of equipment and services and is something that can open eyes to doing things well in the planning stages.
I am not pushing their particular barrow, but when you get someone like HPI coordinating the planning of a hospital building (as opposed to a bunch of doctors and community stalwarts), you stand a better chance of getting it efficiently planned and then constructed.
The use of prefabrication is an important component in ensuring speed and quality of construction [think operating theatres and day rooms being manufactured as modules by different manufacturers using standardised formats and computer files (BMI) in that these building components can be constructed simultaneously (rather than sequentially) in controlled conditions (factories rather than building sites) using, where possible, existing plans and construction knowledge to bring down the cost of construction.
Apparently, the time from start of planning to finished, initial construction may not be reduced significantly (but it is possible) due to the likely increase in time at the strategic planning stage over traditional approaches. However, total cost of construction can be significantly reduced (or alternatively, bang for buck increased) and cost overruns and delays due to additional work to fix unforeseen problems significantly reduced if this extra time in planning is spent wisely.
I reckon a chat with Aladin Niazmand in Sydney (if he’s in town) and Warren McGregor (CEO of prefabaus – warren.mcgregor@prefabaus.org.au – he’s in Melbourne) on the subject might give you some interesting insights into how Wonthaggi and the state government might avoid a white elephant and ensure a worthy sub-regional hospital.
I look forward to catching up with you again sometime soon.
Laurie Martin, Leongatha.