Taranaki hospitals reach critical demand levels

8 July 2021

The pressure of winter ills and chills has pushed demand for patient care to critical levels at Taranaki Base and Hāwera hospitals.

Taranaki DHB’s chief operating officer, Gillian Campbell, says the region is experiencing similar patient volumes to the rest of the country, with demand on hospital services at an all-time high.

“For several weeks our hospitals have had very high occupancy due to acute illness and trauma, but with the extra pressure of winter sickness including RSV, colds, viruses and respiratory issues we have reached critical levels of demand.

“We currently have several patients admitted with respiratory illness, including RSV which has been an issue nationally. We have one confirmed adult and two children with RSV. We also have two adults and one child with respiratory viral illness, however they’ve tested negative for RSV but are still ventilated in our Intensive Care Unit.”

Local Emergency Departments continue to swell with large numbers of people presenting daily, and Mrs Campbell says there are a variety of viruses circulating in the community which is contributing to the pressure.

“We are treating a wide range of respiratory viral and flu-like illness, RSV and pneumonia in our hospitals.

“Our priority is to keep our vulnerable patients and staff as healthy as possible. To help reduce the chances of illnesses spreading we are going to restrict visitation at both Taranaki Base and Hāwera hospitals, starting on Friday 9 July until further notice.”

“A temporary no-visitor policy for children under the age of 16 is now in place, and we’re also asking any people who are unwell not to visit or attend hospital appointments. We simply cannot have sick visitors in our hospitals; they must stay at home. Please reschedule any appointments for when you’re feeling better.”

General hospital visits are also being restricted to one person per patient where possible, except for maternity, the children’s ward and palliative care. Other exceptions may be considered based on compassionate grounds.

Mrs Campbell says there is something everyone in Taranaki can do to help with illness in the community; go back to basics with health hygiene.

“Keep practising all the good habits you learnt during COVID-19 levels - stay home if you’re sick, wash and dry hands, and cough and sneeze into elbows.

“Let’s work together to protect our community and stop the winter ills and chills from spreading.”

Advice for parents regarding children who may develop RSV symptoms is:

Parents and caregivers should seek urgent medical advice if a child has symptoms and also:

  • is under three months old
  • is breathing fast, noisily or is having to use extra effort to breathe
  • looks pale and unwell
  • is taking less than half their normal feeds
  • is vomiting
  • has not had a wet nappy for more than six hours.

Parents and caregivers should call 111 for an ambulance if a child:

  • has blue lips and tongue
  • has severe difficulty breathing
  • is becoming very sleepy and not easy to wake up
  • is very pale
  • is floppy
  • has breathing that is not regular, or pauses in breathing.

How to prevent the spread of RSV and other viruses:

  • Keep children home when they are unwell; they should not attend day-care centres or    kindergarten
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue
  • Regularly wash hands with soap and water for at least twenty second and dry them thoroughly.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if hand washing facilities are not available.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people.
  • People with underlying medical conditions who are at increased risk of complications are strongly encouraged to avoid   contact with sick people and have good hand washing practices.
  • If correctly worn, masks are valuable to both prevent spread from infected people and reduce the risk of getting infected if you are close to people who may be infectious.

Last updated: Friday, July 9, 2021

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