Prime Minister James Marape officially opened the major infrastructure improvements to the hospital in December 2019 which have helped attract and retain high-quality nursing staff to Tari, where safety and security are at greater threat than other provincial centres.
Built in the wake of the 2018 earthquake, the new nurses’ accommodation is disaster resilient and situated within the hospital perimeter, ensuring the safety and security of all nursing staff. Now, six months on, the new building is home to 20 nursing staff, including those who have moved to Tari from other provinces.
“This is essential in being able to attract staff to work in Hela, especially women who require safe housing,” said Dr James Kintwa, CEO of the Hela Provincial Health Authority.
The three-year project was funded through a PGK10 million PNG-Australia Partnership Incentive Fund Grant with counterpart funding from both the Oil Search Foundation (OSF) and the Hela Provincial Government. The upgrades included a new 24-bed nurses’ accommodation block, a new state of the art industrial kitchen and staff mess along with a comprehensive upgrade of the hospital’s electrical system.
Dr. Kintwa added: “The project was delivered despite many significant challenges. These included the 2017 national election, the 2018 Highlands earthquake, significant tribal fighting and the ongoing closure of Tari airport. But despite all these challenges, we were able to successfully complete this project without incident and the community should be proud of all these improvements.”
Dr Kintwa went on to say that the new kitchen is now fully operational with staff well trained to use the facility and equipment. The hospital now has the capacity to provide nutritionally adequate food and safe meals for patients and staff. At the same time, the full electrical upgrade of the hospital provides a safe and guaranteed power supply.
OSF Executive Director, Stephanie Copus-Campbell, said: “Working in partnership has enabled this project to happen. The National and Hela provincial governments collaborated and supported the implementation with extensive engagement from inception to commissioning of the project. The Australian government, as the main donor, was very supportive through every stage.”
Oil Search Limited (OSL) and OSF provided capacity building support and advice on how to project manage a major infrastructure project and provided expertise throughout to ensure safety, compliance and quality were adhered to. Through this, local and PNG wide businesses were involved heavily in construction and planning, supporting economic benefits to the province.
“A side benefit was therefore using local contractors and building their capacity to win future tenders and deliver quality capital works projects. But best of all, the people of Hela now have a much improved and safer hospital,” adds Copus-Campbell.
Six months on, this project is demonstrating how working in partnership with dedicated donors, local business and the provincial government can achieve positive and sustainable outcomes for local communities.
(Hela General Hospital nursing quarters)