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Auckland DHB opens New Zealand’s first integrated stroke and rehabilitation unit

Today Auckland DHB launched Taiao Ora, or Ward 51, at Auckland City Hospital, the first integrated stroke and rehabilitation unit in the country.

The project was initiated in 2019, when former Health Minister David Clark announced the investment of $30 million for the unit.

Taiao Ora, which was built in what was previously an administration suite on Level 5 of Auckland City Hospital, adds a much-needed 41 new beds to the hospital. It enables stroke patients to have all their care delivered in a single, specially designed facility, from hyper-acute (including clot retrieval) and acute care to rehabilitation.

The ward will also accommodate acute neurology patients and people under 65 years of age who require intensive rehabilitation and will benefit from the rehabilitation environment and specialist expertise of the clinical team.

Auckland DHB Neurologist Professor Alan Barber says: “We’re delighted to be opening Taiao Ora which will care for people from Auckland and around New Zealand.

“We know from research that stroke patients treated in an integrated unit have much better outcomes. Recovering from a stroke can be a daunting experience for patients and their whānau, but the journey will be that much easier in our world-class unit, which is one of a kind in New Zealand.”

Anna McRae, Allied Health Director for Adult Community and Long-Term Conditions at Auckland DHB, says: “Stroke is the third largest killer in New Zealand. Every year in our country around 9,000 people have a stroke and about 2,500 people die of a stroke. Stroke is also a leading cause of long-term disability. It’s vital for us as clinicians to optimise rehabilitation opportunities for our stroke patients to give them the best chance of recovery.

“We’ve created Taiao Ora, meaning a wellness environment, as a safe, healing space to support patients on their rehabilitation journey to improved health and wellbeing; as well as a number of shared spaces to encourage whānau involvement. We’ve brought in natural elements – including harakeke, kawakawa, tui, pōhatu and awa through the use of large murals, colours, textures, lighting and flooring.”

Barry Snow, Director of Adult Medical for Auckland DHB, says: “I’m proud of our team who have led and contributed to Taiao Ora, which puts patients and whānau at the centre and enables our patients to have the very best recovery journey. Every part of the design has been clinically led with input from patients and whānau and draws on international best practice.”

Taiao Ora is the first project in Building for the Future, Auckland DHB’s programme of work to create sufficient hospital capacity to continue to provide safe, high quality care for Auckland’s rapidly growing and aging population.

The Auckland Health Foundation, which fundraises for Auckland DHB’s adult health services, has contributed more than $188,000 to Taiao Ora for additional state-of-the-art equipment to accelerate patient recovery, and help create spaces to improve the physical and mental health of patients.

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