Hawke’s Bay health services managing additional demand

Media release

17 August 2016

The Ministry of Health says Hawke’s Bay DHB is managing well the additional demand caused by the gastro outbreak linked to contamination of the water supply.

Director-General of Health Chai Chuah says the DHB reports that it is meeting all staffing needs in wards, emergency department and business continues as usual in terms of elective or scheduled non-urgent surgery and other activities. 

The DHB does anticipate some impact on its electives surgery as some scheduled patients may be unwell with the gastro bug. 

Although the DHB reports it is operating well, it has confirmed arrangements with MidCentral DHB to provide additional staffing support if required.  The Ministry of Health is also coordinating the deployment of technical staff to support the response of Hawke’s Bay Public Health Unit. 

The DHB reports that the number of aged residential care residents in three care facilities affected by the gastro bug is reducing as people recover. District nurses and infection prevention and control staff are providing advice and support for aged residential care facilities. 

Another four District Nurses from MidCentral DHB, based in Palmerston North, will be arriving today to help provide support in the three affected aged care facilities.

Mr Chuah says the Ministry of Health acknowledges the huge effort and contribution by all health professionals in the Hawke’s Bay area. St John reports that they have responded to a number of calls in the region and have rostered additional staff on duty.  St John reports that they were initially attending 8-10 gastro call-outs a day and this is now down to around 4 per day.  

Ministry of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr Andrew Simpson says Healthline continues to be taking calls from members of the public seeking health advice about the gastro bug, but the numbers of calls appear to be dropping with 16 overnight on Tuesday compared with 60 on Monday night.

All seven schools in Havelock North and eight early childhood education services are closed today.  Information about schools reopening will be posted on school websites and Facebook pages following a meeting this afternoon to discuss this.

The Hastings District Council, Hawke’s Bay DHB and local Civil Defence volunteers are door knocking on 900 homes identified as being vulnerable to the gastro bug and visited around half of the homes yesterday and intend to visit the remainder today. 

Staff visiting homes report that while illness is widespread people are generally managing well. The Ministry is aware that those affected and their families will be contacted to check they are receiving appropriate support. 

Other agencies are ensuring that local older people have been contacted and checks have been made to ensure they’re OK. For instance Aged Care and Meals on Wheels have checked on all their clients and other social agencies are making checks by phone on other older people in the area.

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