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Outpatient appointments postponed to free up staff for acute care

Thursday, July 14, 2022   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: health, services, disease, care, immunisation, vaccination

Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury media release: 14th July 2022

New measures to alleviate the pressure on health services in Waitaha are being put in place, says Interim District Director - Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury Dr Peter Bramley.

A System Wide Incident Management Team (IMT) has been stood up to manage the significant demand on the Canterbury Health System at present. There are a number of factors which are impacting on our ability to provide timely planned care. High levels of acute respiratory illnesses, a sustained high volume of admissions to Christchurch Hospital, consistently high demand for acute care in our Emergency Department, Urgent Care facilities and general practice as well as unprecedented high levels of staff sickness due to both COVID-19 and other winter illnesses.

COVID-19 numbers are forecast to continue to rise over the coming weeks. Today we have 111 inpatients with COVID-19. This is the highest number seen throughout the pandemic. We are experiencing higher COVID-19 rates in our 65+ population than at any other time this year, which is impacting disproportionately on hospitalisations.

“To free up staff to work in acute care areas we will be postponing most non-urgent outpatients activity, including all non-urgent outpatient procedures until 31st August 2022. This will exclude all gastroscopy and colonoscopy procedures.

“We apologise for the impact this will have on our community. This is not a decision we have made lightly but we need to redeploy staff to support acute and emergency care across the health system. Acute outpatient assessments will still continue, and we will make use of telehealth consultations wherever we can.”

“We are continuing to undertake emergency and non-deferable surgery and we are reviewing and reprioritising patients who have been waiting longer that we would like due to having their surgery deferred.”

“If your planned outpatient appointment or surgery has been deferred you will be contacted. If you haven’t heard from us, please assume that it is going ahead. If you’re not sure, please phone the number on your appointment letter.”

The IMT continues to monitor the rise in numbers of COVID-19 cases, and staffing pressures throughout the Waitaha health system and will continue to work collaboratively to keep patients flowing through our system.

Updated visitor restrictions

Stricter visitor restrictions have been put in place due to the rising number of inpatients who have COVID-19.

Visitors to COVID-19 positive patients will not be allowed except in extenuating circumstances.

Other methods of communication will be facilitated such as phone, facetime, zoom etc.

You must NOT visit our facilities if you:

  • are a household contact of a COVID-19 positive case;
  • are COVID-19 positive; or
  • Have a cold or flu/COVID-19-like symptoms (and are testing negative for COVID-19).

“This is a good time to remind our community that surgical masks must be worn at all times in our facilities,” says Dr Peter Bramley.

“To limit the spread of COVID-19, in some wards we have heightened infection and prevention controls in place. Even if you have a mask exemption, in some areas you cannot enter without a mask on because patients are very sick or very vulnerable such as in NICU. On some wards, you are required to wear an N95 mask to enter. We cannot compromise on patient health and safety.”

“There is only one visitor allowed at a time and under 12s are not allowed. Please talk to the ward’s Charge Nurse to discuss any exceptions to this on compassionate grounds before you come to hospital to visit.”

“I would like to emphasise that the most important thing that Cantabrians can do is get vaccinated, including boosters if eligible, and wear their masks to protect themselves against the viruses circulating this winter. Please keep sharing this message with your friends and whanau.”

“We’ve all learnt some great healthy habits over the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as vaccination, wearing masks, physical distancing, and increasing ventilation when indoors. These measures will help protect us as we face influenza and other viral diseases,” says Dr Peter Bramley.