This vision has been driven by Dr Colin Hutchison, who will be joined by local surgeons and local investors in creating a state of the art world class hospital. Kaweka Hospital’s stage 1 will open in July in Canning Road, Hastings and is expected to undertake 5000 operations a year. Stage 2 is also under construction and is set to open in December 2024.
What’s your career background?
I trained as a doctor in the UK initially starting my career in adult medicine. I then spent five years doing research in new technologies to treat people with kidney failure before moving to Hawke’s Bay to be the region’s specialist kidney doctor. From that I moved into public healthcare leadership with the Hawke’s Bay DHB, for five years including a year as the Chief Operating Officer.
What was the motivation for moving to New Zealand? For family reasons. I had spent my childhood in North America and although I enjoyed living and working in the UK, I knew that I wanted to give my own children broader life experiences and we found that Hawke’s Bay was very attractive with the beaches and access to the mountains. I came across a kidney doctor role at the Hawke’s Bay hospital online and the region looked really attractive, so we came to give it a go.
What was the inspiration for establishing a new hospital?
At the moment in New Zealand there is a lack of healthcare facilities and this causes challenges for senior doctors who want to provide really good care for their patients. Therefore as a group of senior doctors in Hawke’s Bay we thought outside of the box to solve the problem. Over the course of the last couple of years we have designed and raised money to build a new private hospital. Although the vision has been forming over many years, we really got going on the project in 2019.
What suite of services will the new hospital offer? Our first stage will offer elective surgery and will have four operating theatres in which we aim to do about 5000 operations a year. We will provide a broad mix of surgical disciplines including general surgery, urology, ENT and gynaecology. We want to deliver a new way of surgical care. Presently a lot of healthcare consumers are disempowered and don’t get a good healthcare experience. One of the reasons for this is that healthcare organisations are quite old and have facilities that are run down.
At Kaweka they will be cared for in a state of the art, modern healthcare facility. Our Hospital will be the first 4 star, Green Star Healthcare facility in Hawke’s Bay and the most earthquake secure building. We aim to create a warm healing environment for all of our patients and a great place for our staff to work. Our staff have been recruited because they have real passion for caring for patients and that is from our doctors and nurses through to our support staff and management team. They are all dedicated to giving a first class health experience and raising the bar for healthcare in Hawke’s Bay.
How does private and public health sector work together?
I really see that the private sector is here to support the public sector. The public sector provides the bulk of healthcare in New Zealand and always will, but they only have so many resources at any given time and as a private partner to the DHB we are here to support them and help them deliver elective surgery.
How did the name Kaweka hospital come about?
We did some brainstorming with a really creative design team. Our aim was to have a name that represented the fact as an organisation we were “from the people of Hawke’s Bay for the people of Hawke’s Bay”.
We looked at natural landscapes and when you look out west you see the Kaweka Ranges rising high above and cradling the region and protecting it from the elements. This was our inspiration. We partnered with Architecture HDT who have used the Kaweka Ranges as a strong influence on the architectural design of the hospital. We are very grateful to Ngati Kahungunu for approving our use of the name.
This is a private entity establishing Kaweka – how did it you approach getting local investors interested?
Most hospitals are part of larger organisations now and as consequence a majority of NZ hospitals are not owned by New Zealanders anymore. This means there is a lack of local decision making and direction. Our surgeons and anaesthetists wanted to guide this project for the future of Hawke’s Bay and that is easier by keeping the hospital in local ownership and governance.
So we now have some incredible Hawke’s Bay families that have invested and are supporting the hospital.
How do you see Kaweka Hospital evolving over the next decade?
Healthcare needs in New Zealand will grow immensely over the next few years as our population ages and unfortunately we have a population that has many health problems. Kaweka is in a great position to react quickly to the needs in our community and in our Stage 2 facility, which is underway and expected to be completed by the end of 2024, we will add a new radiology suite with MRI, CT and Breast imaging, a new cardiac catheterization laboratory in a 6000 m2 complex.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
We have had to raise a lot of money and that requires a lot of conversations whether that is with Hawke’ Bay investors or banking partners and that means a lot of people need to understand the project in detail and make sure that we are doing the right thing for Hawke’s Bay. We have to show that we have a sound financial structure and good governance around us.
You were already busy before taking on a project of this scale – how have you managed this?
I have had to step back from clinical medicine over the last few years. Most doctors work fulltime either private or public and I have dropped a lot of my clinical hours in the last two years to make this possible but I also love surrounding myself with really good people and I have an amazing team at Kaweka, which certainly does lighten the workload.
Do you have any other projects underway?
I’m really pleased to just announce a collaboration with surgeons in Palmerston North to help them build a new hospital, which will complement Kaweka.
What are the selling points in trying to recruit and attract new staff to Hawke’s Bay?
The selling points are having really great facilities to live and work in. Surgeons spend 15 plus years training so they want to work in an environment that makes it easier for them to perform their skills. We will surround our surgeons with confident support staff and the best of modern technology.
Hawke’s Bay offers an awesome lifestyle, great schools, easy access to the outdoors, which when you come from a city in the UK, like I do it is a very attractive place to live. But to attract the best doctors and nurses to Hawke’s Bay we also have to have a great medical environment, so if we can provide that and then showcase the lifestyle, we are on to a winner.
What do you do in your spare time?
We have a young family and we really enjoy getting out and about in the Bay. In the winter we ski and the summer we love the beach and an ocean swim.