Media Release

04 November 2008

Taranaki Base Hospital has placed Ward 4 in lock down because of an outbreak of gastroenteritis.

Six patients in Ward 4 (orthopaedic ward) have fallen ill with vomiting and/or diarrhoea yesterday (Monday 3rd Nov) and today (Tuesday 4th Nov), which has lead to the precautionary measure of locking down the ward (restricting visitors, not taking new admissions and heightened infection control measures) to prevent any possible spread.

Of the six affected patients, two have been discharged home, and the remaining four have been placed in isolation. No new admissions to the ward may mean that some elective surgery may have to be postponed as bed space is limited.

Taranaki DHB Medical Officer of Health Dr Penny Hutchinson made the decision today to close the ward to visitors and allow only essential staff in. Visitors are asked to ring the ward before visiting any patients in Ward 4, and if the visit is essential they will be required to wear appropriate protective clothing. Visitors with any questions can ring the hospital ( 06 753 6139) to talk to a Health Protection Officer for any information.

Patients are being discharged directly to their home from the ward when appropriate but any discharges to rest-homes or transfers to other wards or hospitals will be stopped as a precaution.

Thorough cleaning of the ward has begun and test samples have been sent to the laboratory to try to determine the nature of the outbreak. The results should be available within a week.

“We are doing everything we can to prevent this illness spreading to anyone else,’ said Dr Hutchinson.

“We understand this is very difficult for patients and their families who are in Ward 4 but we’d appreciate their cooperation.

“We are also asking members of the public that if they have vomiting or diarrhoea or have visited someone with these symptoms, that they do not visit patients in the hospital until they have been symptom free for at least 48 hours.“

“We are also reminding the public and our staff of the vital importance of good hand hygiene for preventing the spread of this highly contagious illness. That means washing your hands for 20 seconds with warm soapy water and drying them thoroughly with clean towels or paper towels for another 20 seconds”.

The ward staff, Public Health and Infection Control staff are constantly reassessing the situation and taking all steps to safely discharge patients.

For more information please call
Sue Carrington
Media Adviser
P. 021 367 789

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