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Southern DHB, Moving To Alert Level 3 & Beyond

Apr 25, 2020
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Planning is now well underway for a return to more health care services, as we move from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3 next week Chris Fleming, CEO of Southern DHB said.

The measures we undertook Alert Level 4 were very important and we are extremely pleased this is showing in the reduced number of new cases in our district. I want to acknowledge our public health, laboratory and primary care teams for their exceptional efforts over the past weeks, and thank those people who have cared directly for COVID-19 or suspected COVID- 19 patients within our hospital network. And indeed thank you to everyone in the community for the actions you have taken in Alert Level 4 as we have faced this shared challenge.

At the same time, our thoughts have been with the people who have had their elective surgery or other services postponed because of COVID-19, and we are very conscious of the need to provide the care they have been waiting for.

Services have been impacted across the community, as well as in our hospital settings. More than 400 elective surgeries were postponed and 2,500 outpatients appointments were impacted during the lockdown – some of these outpatients have been contacted by phone or Skype, and some have had their consultations conducted remotely. However the delay in planned care, as well as anyone in our community who has delayed accessing acute care, will place our system under continued pressure in the weeks and months ahead.

Next week we will be resuming as much care as we can manage safely.

This means:

  • Current screening measures remain in place for staff and patients.
  • Physical distancing and other safety measures must be maintained.
  • Maintaining capacity to manage surges in demand.
  • We are contacting patients to reschedule appointments and surgeries.
  • Our visitor policies are also being reviewed.
  • Services are developing ways to maintain physical distancing of patients, for example in waiting rooms.

We need to acknowledge however that we do face a significant backlog, and constraints around delivering care will remain for some time. We also believe there may be a ‘hidden waiting list’ of people who delayed seeking care during lockdown and whose conditions may be more acute when they present to us. Further, the stresses and economic impact of the pandemic will very likely bring further demands on our health services.

Therefore we do need to look at alternative ways of working in order to increase capacity safely.

While we are hopeful that through our collective efforts we have avoided the worst case scenarios, there is no doubt we continue to have a long road ahead of us. However, everything we have seen in recent weeks gives me confidence in our teams to rise to these challenges. Again I thank everyone for their patience and understanding over the past weeks, as well as for the role everyone in the community has played in helping try to stamp out COVID-19.

Southern DHB Community Services – Alert Level 3

As we move from Lockdown Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3, people at home will have questions about Southern DHB’s Community services, including District Nursing, Community Rehabilitation, and Physiotherapy Outpatients.

Southern DHB’s Community Services have continued to provide essential services during Alert Level 4, and Level 3 will see a careful expansion of services, where possible, to support treatment that has been deferred.

Under Level 3:

· Patient contact is still only permitted where essential for treatment that cannot be deferred – this will continue to maintain patient and staff safety.
· Non-patient contact options, such as telephone or Zoom, are being expanded where appropriate to support treatment that had been deferred.

Services will be in contact with patients where there is an opportunity to recommence care or treatment safely. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis.

DHB Funded Home and Community Support Services

Home and support service providers will be making decisions on an individual basis, rather than a blanket approach.

This recognises that some clients expect a ‘return to normal’ under Level 3 where possible, while other clients are still not wanting carers in their bubbles.

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