Wairarapa Hospital. PHOTO/FILE

Hospital stretched to limits

ELI HILL
eli.hill@age.co.nz

Wairarapa Hospital has declared a “code red” after filling all its beds.

A raft of illnesses and injuries have increased demand on the hospital, stretching capacity to its limits.

Wairarapa District Health Board has responded by cancelling elective surgery and repurposing the hospital’s day procedure unit for inpatients.

Extra staff have been called in to work overnight.

It is not known when the situation will improve.

No single event or outbreak had caused the increased demand, chief medical officer Shawn Sturland said.

“Every patient that is admitted needs to be here,” he said.

“Our priority is to ensure we have the number of staff on hand required to cope, and some staff have had to come in off-roster. We are grateful that we have a great team that are quick to help out when needed.”

Medical practices and ambulance staff have been informed and asked to provide primary care for patients in the community, where it is appropriate to do so, but the hospital says extra care should be sought when it is needed.

“As always, if people need urgent care, they should not hesitate to come to the Emergency Department,” Sturland said.

Wairarapa Hospital has 74 inpatient beds. An additional 24 beds are provided in the Emergency Department, the day procedure unit, and in Selena Sutherland Hospital next door.

These beds are not usually used for inpatient care, but when the hospital has exceeded capacity, they can be allocated in order to cope with the “code red” demand.