Most of the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) team members working on the New Dunedin Hospital have clinical backgrounds – and Nikki Scott is no exception. She trained as a dietitian and spent most of her career as a Kidney Specialist Dietitian at Northland DHB and Counties Manukau DHB.

“I loved that because there was huge cultural diversity. I also got to see my patients for years, and I loved having that relationship with them,” Nikki says.

Later, Nikki became a Professional Practice Fellow at Otago University.

“I taught dietetics and nutrition students. I liked seeing the growth in my students – I found that really inspiring. Even now, I still get to see some of them working in the hospital.”

Now a Clinical Project Manager in the Project Management Office (PMO), Nikki’s portfolio’s includes primary and secondary maternity, the women’s clinic, haematology/oncology, the kitchen, front of house, nuclear medicine, pathology, NZ Blood, pharmacy, and ‘standard rooms’ – rooms that are standardised and repeated throughout the hospital.

“The role’s really varied. You might be talking about placenta storage in the morning, and then in the afternoon be speaking to a medical physicist about what type of radiation shielding is required in theatre.”

With her unique insights into the new hospital, Nikki can see that there will be benefits for patients and staff alike.

“The access to natural light in the new hospital will create a really welcoming feeling. There will also be a central garden in the inpatient building for people to look out onto.”

Nikki says bereaved people will be better supported by the design of the new hospital.

“In the new hospital there will be a dedicated loss room. A loss room is where a baby that’s been lost in utero, or will have a very short lifespan, is born. We’re working with groups such as A Star is Born, SANDS and Aukaha to ensure it will meet community needs and help create memories that will last forever.”

There will also be special bereavement rooms.

“Every ward will have access to a patient bedroom that is designed with bereavement in mind, a place where a patient can spend their last moments with loved ones. With palliative care nurses and the Clinical Leadership Group we worked out the principles that support a good death, and we know that having whānau nearby is really important. The corridor beside the bereavement room can be closed off to create a small whānau space where there are chairs and a beverage bay with tea and coffee.”

From the correct handling of radioactive waste to accessibility requirements for bariatric toilets, Nikki says she’s learnt a lot. 

I’ve learnt so much about ventilation, and how positive and negative pressure rooms work. I’ve learnt about designated flows and extracts, and we’re working with the engineering team to put everything in place.”

Nikki says her role epitomises her favourite SDHB value, open / pono.

“I like that we’re having an open dialogue with staff through the user groups. They’re telling us what they want, and we’re listening to challenges and trying to work through them. It’s a real privilege to be part of this journey, helping to be part of the creation of this new hospital.”  

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