Covid-19: Southern District Health Board plans to improve intensive care units
Robyn Edie / Stuff
The Southern District Health Board is hoping that funding from the Department of Health will make the intensive care unit at Southland Hospital safer when Covid-19 becomes widespread.
The Southern District Health Board has asked for government funding to improve its critical care infrastructure as Southland and Otago prepare for the endemic Covid-19.
The Department of Health has set aside $ 100 million to accelerate intensive care projects under the government’s Response and Recovery Fund, with hospitals in North Shore, Tauranga and Christchurch announced as the first beneficiaries in the week last.
As the district prepares for its first cases of Covid-19 in the community in 18 months, the DHB has been tasked by the Department of Health to prepare for the worst-case scenario of 900 community cases of Covid-19 in Southland and Otago and 40 hospitalizations per week – including four of those cases requiring intensive care.
DHB Southern Business Services Executive Director Nigel Trainor said DHB has requested funding for two projects to repair the heating, ventilation and air conditioning in the intensive care unit at the hospital in Dunedin and the intensive care unit at Southland Hospital.
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âIt is too early to say how much this funding will amount,â he said.
Last month, the DHB said all Covid-19 patients in Southland and Otago who need hospital treatment would be sent to Dunedin Hospital, but former chief medical officer Dr Nigel Millar , warned in September that all buildings in southern DHB would need work on its ventilation systems to protect patients from the Delta variant – a more virulent strain of Covid-19.
This week, Southern DHB chief executive Chris Fleming said trends in the North Island outbreak suggested Southern may be considering a more moderate-than-expected outbreak in Southland and Otago.
National modeling conducted in October suggested that a moderate outbreak would be around 400 cases in the district per week as the Kiwis resume traveling.
Roxie Mohebbi is leading a discussion on the Covid-19 vaccine with immunologist Dr Maia Brewerton and GP Dr Api Talemaitoga as part of Stuff’s Whole Truth project.
WellSouth medical doctor Carol Atmore also said the number of the most pessimistic cases could be halved if those in Southland and Otago were fully vaccinated and continued to follow safety guidelines.
More than 90% of eligible residents are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Meanwhile, WellSouth – the primary health organization – is encouraging people to call its 0800 VIRUS-19 (0800 847 8719) for advice, rather than Healthline’s national number.
The PHO is in the process of compiling a list of testing sites that will be available during the holiday period when some general practices may close and is ready to mobilize mass testing centers if necessary.
WellSouth Director of Nursing Wendy Findlay is urging residents to get tested if they are not feeling well.
âIt’s free and it helps ensure that Covid is not in our communities,â she said.
The call center operates seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
WellSouth plans to open walk-in testing centers in Invercargill and Queenstown by Christmas.
Southland recorded its first place of interest for the current outbreak on Tuesday, after someone who visited a remote hut in Fiordland over the weekend returned a weakly positive Covid-19 test result.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health confirmed on Friday that the investigation into the case was over and considered historic.
The case caused a slight increase in the number of tests in Southland and Otago with 370 samples taken on Tuesday compared to 346 samples the previous Tuesday.
Another 370 swabs were taken on Wednesday (312 the previous Wednesday) and 277 swabs on Thursday – compared to 302 swabs on December 2.