After nearly two years of planning and one year of construction the team at Glenview Medical Centre are thriving in their newly rebuilt premises.
2017 has been a big year, delving into a two-phase construction project to ensure they could keep their doors open while they future-proofed their building for the increased demand they've been grappling with for quite some time.
Glenview Medical Centre has a long history on the site, with the original building opened by Dr Jack Wong in the early seventies. He was one of the first GPs to embrace the idea of group practices in New Zealand.
In 1993 the original Te Waiora Medical Centre building was extensively extended, remodelled and re-branded as Glenview Medical Centre. This made it state of the art for the time - including becoming computerised. Fast forward 20+ years and it was time for another grand scale facelift.
Planning the construction was carefully thought out to remain functional. Construction of phase one began in January 2017.
"Three years ago we were getting really close to having to turn new patients away. We wanted to make sure we could accommodate the people who live in our Glenview and Melville areas well, as well as surrounding suburbs," Dr Chris Nihotte says.
"As well as meeting patient demands we barely had enough space for our team - we've got a bigger nursing team working in expanded roles and they needed their own consult rooms instead of roaming the hallways knocking on doors trying to find a free space."
"We also noted what was happening with other businesses in the area, and the planned residential developments. We knew we had to anticipate even more growth in demand," he adds.
Dr Chris Nihotte with (L-R) practice manager Prue Cotes, Janice Wotton (nurse practitioner), Viki Alloway (receptionist) and Chrissy Simmonds (diabetes nurse) stand outside the nearly completed new building - pharmacy and radiology services will occupy the space still under construction behind them.
"We worked with architects and a specialist in the design of medical buildings to advise on things like the optimal size and layout of consulting rooms, and security and privacy features for our staff and patients," says Dr Nihotte.
"We had to work in two phases as we wanted to keep the doors open to our patients throughout the re-build process," says practice manager Prue Cotes.
"Phase one finished up in June, and we were all really excited to receive our new building in a blessing ceremony on 6 December. We moved in on Friday 8 December and it's just made such a difference already," Prue adds.
The new building now has 13 consulting rooms, up from the previous seven. There are also two minor surgery areas instead of one and a much bigger treatment room (triage area). Radiology and pharmacy services will be moving into the building in February 2018 making it really easy and convenient for people visiting the practice.
"One of our favourite new things is our nurses finally have proper spaces to work now, with a nursing hub plus dedicated consulting rooms for our nurse practitioner," says Dr Nihotte.
"We've also got a much bigger, nicer reception area which we hope our patients will enjoy."
"Already it feels calmer, everyone has a place," he adds.
Improving accessibility has also been a focus of the project.
"Our previous site had quite a steep entrance and exit which we've been able to fix which makes it much easier for our patients - and there is more parking. We've also got wider hallways which are better for mobility aids plus handrails in the hallways. Lots of features designed to help people get to, and around, the building," says Prue.
"We've got better privacy for patients who may arrive or leave by ambulance now too. Previously the ambulance gurney could only gain access via reception which wasn't at all ideal. Now we have an ambulance bay at the rear of the building."
The practice is also future proofed in many ways. The building is fully fibre - no copper wires which means their computer systems work at faster speeds than before.
"We've also standardised all our consulting rooms so if clinicians have to work in a different space they can always find everything they need," says Dr Nihotte.
"With more rooms we've also created space for teaching which is something as a practice we'd like to get more involved in going forward."