Review of the impact of the February 22nd earthquake on the Canterbury health care system.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The magnitude 6.2 Christchurch earthquake struck the city of Christchurch at 12:51pm on February 22, 2011. The earthquake caused 186 fatalities, a large number of injuries, and resulted in widespread damage to the built environment, including significant disruption to lifeline networks and health care facilities. Critical facilities, such as public and private hospitals, government, non-government and private emergency services, physicians’ offices, clinics and others were severely impacted by this seismic event. Despite these challenges many systems were able to adapt and cope. This thesis presents the physical and functional impact of the Christchurch earthquake on the regional public healthcare system by analysing how it adapted to respond to the emergency and continued to provide health services. Firstly, it assesses the seismic performance of the facilities, mechanical and medical equipment, building contents, internal services and back-up resources. Secondly, it investigates the reduction of functionality for clinical and non-clinical services, induced by the structural and non-structural damage. Thirdly it assesses the impact on single facilities and the redundancy of the health system as a whole following damage to the road, power, water, and wastewater networks. Finally, it assesses the healthcare network's ability to operate under reduced and surged conditions. The effectiveness of a variety of seismic vulnerability preparedness and reduction methods are critically reviewed by comparing the observed performances with the predicted outcomes of the seismic vulnerability and disaster preparedness models. Original methodology is proposed in the thesis which was generated by adapting and building on existing methods. The methodology can be used to predict the geographical distribution of functional loss, the residual capacity and the patient transfer travel time for hospital networks following earthquakes. The methodology is used to define the factors which contributed to the overall resilence of the Canterbury hospital network and the areas which decreased the resilence. The results show that the factors which contributed to the resilence, as well as the factors which caused damage and functionality loss were difficult to foresee and plan for. The non-structural damage to utilities and suspended ceilings was far more disruptive to the provision of healthcare than the minor structural damage to buildings. The physical damage to the healthcare network reduced the capacity, which has further strained a health care system already under pressure. Providing the already high rate of occupancy prior to the Christchurch earthquake the Canterbury healthcare network has still provided adequate healthcare to the community.