Hospital ready for cases of virus

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Waitaki is ready if Covid-19 cases are diagnosed in the region, the district’s health services chief executive Ruth Kibble says.

Mrs Kibble was confident the health system could handle a substantial outbreak.

Planning for the pandemic began in February, at the first signs of Covid-19 in Wuhan, and Waitaki’s health services had been liaising with other rural hospitals, she said.

“Our plan is based on the following principles: ensuring the safety of staff, maintaining appropriate infection control, continuing clinical services and treating our patients with dignity and compassion.”

In a worse-case scenario, the hospital building could admit 45 patients, and a further eight in the emergency department.

Whether Covid-19 patients remained in Oamaru would depend on their clinical needs, as the hospital did not have any ventilators, and those patients would need to be shifted to Dunedin, she said.

The hospital has been divided into zones — red for confirmed cases, orange for potential and green for other ongoing health needs.

That meant regular hospital services, such as the radiology department, could continue without risk of transmission.

The hospital had enough personal protective equipment, and staff were assigned ‘‘buddies’’ to check safety measures were being followed, she said.

“I am immensely proud of how resilient our whole team has been in standing up and working together to ensure we have planned well, communicated our plans to staff and are ready.”