Wed, 18 Jan 2023

Southbase grows healthcare footprint

Southbase has been selected as the preferred contractor to build the outpatient building of the new Dunedin hospital.

The Ministry of Health is now applying for fast-track consent for the five-storey building, the first of two main buildings on the $1.47 billion project’s central city campus. But, having already obtained consent for foundation and groundworks, it needed to secure a construction company to build a facility intended to be open within the next three years.

Southbase, which has an office in Queenstown, already has a substantial workforce in Dunedin as it is working on building the new Te Rangi Hiroa residential hall in Albany St for the University of Otago. Southbase Group chief executive Quin Henderson said he expected that staff would be able to transfer from that project to the hospital building,  but the latter was a bigger project and would require more staff.

"We are very proud that we have been able to leverage off that project and hire some local labour and apprentices. We have worked with the polytechnic, iwi and other organisations so that we can get the locals into work basically, it’s a good time for Dunedin.

"For Te Rangi Hiroa we have had about four of our people move down there who have now stayed to move on to the next project, which is pleasing ..."

There were about 120 people now on the Te Rangi Hiroa site, including local subcontractors, and the outpatient building would require about 160 people at its peak time, Mr Henderson said.

"Then the economies that we can offer the Ministry of Health by bringing those teams across to the outpatients building is fantastic, and hopefully working with whoever does the inpatient building to move those teams on again, that’s a 10-year career for someone in Dunedin."

Hospital project programme director Tony Lloyd said it was pleasing to have secured a preferred contractor to lead the construction of the outpatient building.

"We remain on track to open the building in 2025 ... Discussions with other potential contractors and suppliers are ongoing."

A year ago, the ministry announced that Australian firm CPB Contractors, which built Christchurch Hospital, was its "preferred respondent" to build the larger inpatient building, but stressed that status did not mean the firm was guaranteed to secure the final tender. Mr Henderson said Southbase Construction already had a working relationship with the ministry and with the firms working on the outpatient groundworks.

"We had a pre-construction services agreement first in order to mitigate risk in cost and time, it’s prudent that we work with the customer to secure long lead items, which is what we’ve done."

Southbase had built laboratories and operating theatres for Massey University scientific and veterinary facilities so had some experience of the requirements of finishing to medical standards, Mr Henderson said.

"We also did the health precinct project in Christchurch and that had theatres and the like, so we’ve done quite a bit of that."

The independent panel considering the consent application for the outpatient building has just completed receiving invited comments on the proposal. In July it set a due date in late August for its decision to be made.

Article by Mike Houlahan
Published by Otago Daily News.