Health Precinct - Whiria te tangata (Weaving the people together)

Our Newsletter

Welcome to the third Health Precinct Advisory Council e-newsletter.

There is a lot happening in the Health Precinct at present. One of the more noticeable areas of activity is construction. The Health Research and Education Facility (HREF) is nearing completion on the corner of Tuam and Antiqua Streets. This building will house almost 2000 Ara Institute of Canterbury students, plus Canterbury DHB education facilities such as a state-of-the-art simulation centre for training both students and clinicians. Some of the University of Canterbury’s health sciences academics and support staff will be based in the HREF building. 

The Canterbury DHB’s Outpatients and Acute Services Buildings are also proceeding at pace. Once completed, they will make a noticeable difference to patient experience and care.

We are very excited about the way the Precinct is shaping up and the fantastic spirit of cooperation between our partner institutions. This e-newsletter has updates from four of our partners on their initiatives and successes.

Ian Town
Chair, HPAC


University of Canterbury Professor Maggie-Lee Huckabee (left) discusses rehabilitation technology with one of her colleagues at the UC Rose Centre for Stroke Recovery and Research.

UC stroke researchers save millions and improve patient outcomes

A programme to help prevent patients developing pneumonia following a stroke or surgery has cut rates of the serious infection by 17 per cent – and saved the Canterbury health system more than $1.5 million a year.

The programme has been developed by the University of Canterbury’s Rose Centre director Professor Maggie-Lee Huckabee, in conjunction with clinicians from several New Zealand district health boards.

Professor Huckabee says the cough reflex of people with a swallowing impairment, such as stroke patients, does not always work. When food goes down the wrong way, instead of a protective cough forcing it up, the food stays in the lungs causing a chest infection.

Professor Huckabee’s programme directs clinicians to give patients a special cough reflex test to measure their ability to clear food, and gives specific advice on clinical management.

Early research on the initiative showed it significantly reduced rates of pneumonia from 27% to 10% in stroke patients. It has since been adopted and changed care protocols in New Zealand hospitals, as well as those in the United Kingdom, Australia, and Singapore.
Canterbury DHB emergency department staff take part in a simulation exercise.

Practice makes perfect

Simulation training allows health professionals to practice medical scenarios, and the necessary teamwork and communication skills involved, before encountering them in real life. There is strong evidence that simulation training, in addition to lecture-based training, is one of the most effective tools in up-skilling health care staff.

The Canterbury DHB (CDHB) and Ara are dedicating an entire floor of the Health Research and Education Facility (HREF) to clinical simulation. It will allow students to train in the same areas and in collaboration with qualified health professionals.

Stella Ward, the CDHB’s executive director of allied health, says improved resources for simulation training supports its focus on inter-professional practice and positive team interactions. Because health care training is complex, simulation helps staff prepare for rarer events. The ultimate result is better care for patients and the community.


Jorun Tømte, Norwegian nursing student

Norwegian nursing student seeks out Ara

Norwegian nursing student Jorun Tømte seized a brand new exchange opportunity to study at Ara Institute of Canterbury last year. Ara has a signed agreement with Molde University in Norway that means students studying at both institutions are eligible to apply for the student exchange.

"It’s a one-time opportunity to be able to embrace and learn about a country, on the opposite side of the planet, from 'the inside'," Tømte says.

Initially struggling with academic terminology in English, Tømte overcame this. "My teachers were amazing. The lectures were diverse, which gave us the opportunity to acquire information in multiple ways."

She learnt that "even though the nursing processes may differ, the aim of treatment is the same- to enable people to manage and live their own lives in the best way possible."


Phil (left) and Anthony Butler with technology from the human-sized MARS scanner under development.

$1 million scanner donated to Christchurch Universities

Global medical technology giant GE Healthcare has donated a state-of-the-art scanner worth $1 million to the University of Otago. The donation aims to benefit not only the University of Otago, who has a memorandum of understanding with GE Healthcare, but the University of Canterbury, and Lincoln University, who will use it in medical research studies. The technology will also be used to test the effectiveness of the MARS colour scanner, being developed by a team led by father and son scientists Professors Phil and Anthony Butler.

Radiologist Professor Anthony Butler, who works with both Otago and Canterbury Universities, says the donated scanner is of the highest quality and like those used today for clinical diagnosis in many hospitals around New Zealand. He and his colleagues will compare the output of this scanner with the MARS scanner's output. The Christchurch invention is being commercialised by MARS Bioimaging Ltd. It is expected to revolutionize medical imaging because it provides a greater level of detail about the make-up of the body.

Bob Senzig, CT chief engineer for GE Healthcare said spectral photon counting - the technology used in the MARS scanner – will revolutionize medical imaging. "Our relationship with the MARS group is helping to illuminate the clinical potential of the technology".



48 Hour Health Challenge 


The 48 Hour Health Challenge was held the weekend of 24th and 25th March, at the Canterbury District Health Board’s Design Lab. The University of Canterbury's Centre for Entrepreneurship ran the event, supported by the Health Precinct Advisory Council.

Twenty students from the universities of Canterbury and Otago worked together in groups to develop innovative solutions to real-world challenges faced by our healthcare system. Over the weekend students were exposed to the viewpoints of more than 20 mentors, advisors, healthcare professionals and experts.

A judging panel of leaders in business, the heath sector, and academia selected winners based on the innovativeness of their concept; the strength of the teams’ presentation; and the potential for the idea to impact the future of healthcare.

Congratulations to the winner - Team Quinn for KanohiDB

KanohiDB is able to ‘read in’ information from all current databases without needing to modify or update current information sources – a fundamental barrier to improvements in the past. 

Here is a summary of the event

48 Hour Health Challenge participants, mentors and judges.

TechWeek 19-27 May  

New Zealand’s technology and innovation sectors are growing rapidly. Techweek fosters that growth by providing a week-long national opportunity for connection and cross-pollination, and a chance to share New Zealand’s unique and inspiring innovation stories with the world.

The Health Precinct Advisory Council's partners shall be showcasing their individual innovation stories as part of Techweek 2018.

Learn more about this exciting week, and book tickets to the events of Health Precinct Advisory Council partners here.

Victorian Healthcare Week 20-21 August

An annual event bringing together clinical, corporate, technology and infrastructure professionals to discuss the shared challenge of increasing patient care in a resource constrained environment.

Find out about the programme here
Learn more 
Thanks for taking the time to read about the inspiring work our people are doing right here on our door-step. If you would like to know more about Te Papa Hauora/ Health Precinct see our Website
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