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Hospital at red alert


Elective surgeries to be rescheduled


Amid a wave of staff sickness and an influx of patients, Wairarapa Hospital is bringing back its red alert settings.

The restrictions meant no visitors were allowed in the hospital, except in exceptional circumstances and when agreed in advance with the charge nurse manager, duty nurse, or senior medical clinician.

Visitor exemptions included partners in care [supporters of longer-term patients or patients who needed hospital services frequently] and extra support for patients with disabilities.

The DHB decided to change levels at a meeting on Monday.

The hospital had been at an orange alert setting since May 26, allowing for a maximum of one visitor at a time for one visit per day.

New Zealand dropped from a red traffic light setting to orange on April 13, but Wairarapa Hospital kept its red alert restrictions for longer.

Chief executive Dale Oliff said the main reason for the shift in levels was patient demand, staff illnesses, shortages, and vacancies.

“The decision made today is completely unrelated to the recent drug overdoses.

“Our bed capacity in Wairarapa Hospital is stretched and is averaging 95 per cent adult occupancy.

“We currently have 14 patients with either covid or influenza in the hospital.

“Like all other hospitals, these decisions are based on an assessment of the current situation at each facility and will fluctuate depending upon the factors listed.

“The decision was made because, like many other hospitals, we are having large numbers of patients requiring admission, as well as staff away because they are covid-positive, have influenza, or are looking after their families who may be sick.”

The hospital also deferred planned care until it was clinically safe to reschedule.

The deferments included elective surgery and care unrelated to acute, urgent needs.

The DHB advised patients that staff sickness could mean longer wait times.

Wairarapa DHB had a system of four levels that allowed for different numbers of visitors in different areas of the hospital: green, yellow, orange, and red.

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