Have a safe-as-summer!

22 December 2022

With Taranaki’s hospital emergency departments already experiencing high volumes of presentations, enjoying summer and your Christmas break starts with being prepared and knowing how to stay healthy.

Daily ED presentations at Taranaki Base Hospital are averaging 120 which is already high for this time of year, says Dr Alex Bray, Te Whatu Ora Clinical Director for Emergency Medicine in Taranaki.

“Despite this, the ED’s in Base Hospital and Hawera Hospital are still functioning well and ready to treat life and limb threatening injuries and illnesses 24 hours a day 7 days a week. This can mean long wait times for people coming to ED with minor injuries and illnesses.

“We really want everyone to have a safe-as-summer holiday – and that can start with knowing what alternatives are available to our ED,” says Bray.  “This keeps our Emergency Departments free to treat people with emergencies.”

“There are a lot of ways that you can care for yourself and others at home. For tips on treating common health conditions, and advice on when to seek more help, visitwww.healthnavigator.org.nz

“Your local pharmacist can offer treatment for bladder infections, eye infections, minor cuts, grazes, coughs, colds, emergency contraceptives, and a range of other health needs. They are registered health professionals and offer excellent health advice as well.

“If you are feeling sick and worried, for free medical advice call Healthline 0800 611 116. This number provides 24/7 medical advice from registered health professionals. They’ll provide you with advice on caring for yourself or family members and can also connect you with the health services you might need. Translation services are available.”

While many GP clinics and pharmacies may be closed or opening on reduced hours over the holidays, the best way to find pharmacies, GPs and Urgent Medical Care Centres open near you, visit www.healthpoint.co.nz, says Dr Bray.

“When you need urgent medical attention, try your GP practice first if you are unwell.  Most patients don’t realise that the ED does not have access to your GP practice’s medical records.  So another GP or nurse practitioner at your own GP’s practice may be able to offer you care that is more tailored to your own health needs.  If it’s possible to wait to see them, this personalised care is often worth the wait and avoids needing to change medications or treatments again later.”

Urgent Medical Centres can look after injuries, sprains, cuts, broken bones, or help if you are unwell. They operate on a walk-in basis with no appointment needed.” 

When you have a medical emergency that is life threatening such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, or severe bleeding and pain, call 111 immediately, 24/7, or go directly to your nearest hospital’s Emergency Department at Taranaki Base Hospital in New Plymouth or Hawera Hospital.

Alcohol overuse is often a cause for significant harm, from assaults to motorway accidents.  Even simple, easily preventable injures can result in permanent disability or death had alcohol not been involved. Drinking to excess is dangerous to you and those around you, including those you love you may have to take care of you after an injury, life in a wheelchair is not a fun outcome to party with friends.  If you drink, give someone else the keys; and don’t ever drink and operate a vehicle.

Watch out for each other and care for each other, the best person to prevent your mate from doing something they’ll regret is you. 

And if you need help, the best person to reach out to is your mate.  And if you know your mate is struggling, try to reach out to them.  For some people the holidays can be really rough times. 

If you need someone else to reach out to talk to, you can call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor, or call Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE), or Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email talk@youthline.co.nz or online chat.

With a high number COVID cases still circulating, as well as carrying your usual medications when travelling, it’s a good idea to take a kit that has rapid antigen tests (RATs), hand sanitiser and masks to add to your first aid kit, which will help further protect you and your family and friends against COVID-19.  You do not need to come to the ED if you have a positive covid test. If you are feeling very unwell first [insert the protocol here]. 

After a health check via the phone, many pharmacies can give you free COVID-19 antivirals without a prescription.  

In the meantime, as it’s looking like we’re going to have a hot summer, which can really affect older people in particular, remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated for yourself, children and pets.

Hot, sunny days means being sun smart – so slip on clothing or slip into the shade, slop on the sunscreen, slap on the hat and wrap yourself to protect yourself from the sun’s rays.
Knowing the range of different health services available can help you and your family stay well this summer.

“From everyone at Te Whatu Ora Taranaki, thanks Taranaki for choosing the right health service for your needs and have a safe-as-summer!” says Dr Bray.

Last updated: Friday, December 23, 2022

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