Topic: Dr Neil Goodwin
Retired Specialist Anaesthetist and Director Intensive Care Unit.
The hospital had an area in the middle of the second floor, above the cafeteria, in which limited intensive care could be performed in the early 1980’s. Patients were usually transferred to either Hamilton or Auckland if they needed prolonged care.
In 1985, having successfully opened the first ICU in Africa in Durban in 1970, I was looking to relocate to a less stressful environment. For several years I had been very friendly with Dr Matt Spence, who was the doyen of Intensive Care in New Zealand. We often met at international conferences. He suggested that I should think of coming to New Zealand.
“I’ve just the spot for you in one of the nicest towns to live in, it’s called Tauranga. They need someone to build and run an ICU there,” he said. He then negotiated a new post with the Hospital Board; I was appointed and arrived in December 1986.
Designing a new ICU was easy, but deciding where to put it was a problem. If it took over an existing ward the extra space required for ICU care would reduce the hospital bed total. Tauranga only just had enough beds to qualify as a major establishment and any reduction would have a major effect on funding and staff salaries. We looked everywhere from the basement to the roof garden.
Fortunately, in the next budget, this all changed and we were able to go ahead and build in what had been Ward 7, conveniently close to the operating theatres. The new unit included cubicles for six Coronary Care beds, six ICU beds in an open plan area, two isolation rooms plus all the necessary storage, gas and power supplies. The ICU medical staff were all from the Department of Anaesthesia and provided a 24/7 cover at specialist level.
This fourth floor unit was used until 2012 when it was replaced by the new complex of High Dependency, Intensive and Coronary Care Units.