‘Steady stream’ visiting hospital

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Oamaru Hospital is getting a ‘‘steady stream’’ of people with Covid-19 visiting its emergency department.

Waitaki District Health Services chief executive Keith Marshall said the first positive case arrived at the hospital a few weeks ago and there had been a ‘‘steady stream’’ of people with Covid-19 visiting the emergency department since.

‘‘When we say admission, that is is not someone going into a bed in our ward, but rather being placed into our Covid-specific isolation facility within the ED itself,’’ Mr Marshall said.

‘‘And then, of course, some people present with other health issues needing treatment and just happen to have Covid as well.

‘‘It is also important to remember that not everyone with Covid needs hospitalisation and indeed most don’t.’’

The hospital had a ‘‘rigorous isolation protocol’’ in place as well as extensive personal protective equipment for staff in contact with positive cases.

Any suspected cases were screened through a PCR, Rat or LIAT test and if they were positive, they underwent a triage process to determine the right intervention. If a positive case was admitted, they were kept in isolation, he said.

‘‘Our current Covid protocols mean that no›one is admitted as a patient through our ward without getting a clear negative lab PCR test.’’

The hospital’s screening process and restrictions on visitor access were working, but Mr Marshall said the situation was reviewed daily in case more restrictions were necessary.

With Covid-19 in the community, it was important people did not ‘‘inadvertently expose’’ someone to what could be a very serious illness, he said.

‘‘Even if you don’t feel seriously unwell, it really can be for others.’’

People with symptoms should isolate, get a test, and register results on the Covid-19 website, which was crucial for people to access support. If symptoms became worse, people should ring their doctor.’’

The impact of Covid-19 had been ‘‘wide›reaching’’ across Waitaki’s health services.
Oamaru Hospital, like all services, had struggled with some staff needing to isolate.

‘‘So far we have been managing pretty well considering the unusual circumstances,’’ he said.

Hospital staff had also noticed increasing tension among people waiting for access to services.

‘‘We ask only that folk respect our dedicated group of staff who are doing their utmost to provide care and support to those who need it.’’

Across the district, there was an ‘‘astounding group’’ of people, from those working in the health and support service sector to neighbours and friends, looking after people with Covid-19 and their families.

‘‘Every one of those people, our own staff included, are going above and beyond . . . it is quite inspiring to know about all the work that is going in to keeping people well.’’