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Hospital records more ‘code reds’

Wairarapa Hospital has reported nine code red days so far this year. PHOTO/FILE

Story by Soumya Bhamidipati

The region’s hospital was in code red seven times last year and has had nine already this year.

A code red happens when the hospital is at 100 per cent occupancy, the emergency department is at capacity with patients awaiting inpatient beds, and the number of predicted discharges will not meet predicted demand.

Wairarapa District Health Board had seven such incidences in 2020 – two in June, one each in July and August, and three in October.

Most of these happened overnight, though two happened in the evening.

So far this year, the hospital reported nine code red days. One day each in February, March, April and August, and five days in July.

In a May 2021 request lodged under the Official Information Act, a person [whose name was redacted] stated they had heard anecdotal accounts leading to their query about the number of code reds.

“I have heard recently of women in labour being turned away due to a lack of bed resourcing,” they wrote.

“I have heard of days when there have been acute midwife staffing shortages at the hospital.”

A spokesperson for Wairarapa DHB said the hospital did not turn away any women presenting in late-stage labour and requiring urgent care, regardless of capacity.

“If the hospital is full, a woman in early-stage labour may be directed to present at one of our neighbouring hospitals to birth if that is safe to do and if that hospital has more capacity and is better placed to deliver care at that time,” the spokesperson said.

“Our service is well supported by independent community Lead Maternity Carers that provide midwifery services for the women of Wairarapa.

“On the rare occasion that was to occur, the discussion would be had with the LMC and the woman and plans put in place for them to present directly to the alternate nearby hospital.

“Likewise, if a neighbouring hospital is at capacity, Wairarapa Hospital does provide care for women from other DHBs.”

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