South's hospitals at capacity

Hospitals throughout Otago and Southland are almost at capacity and some patients are being shuffled around wards as staff deal with a seasonal increase in admissions.

Southland Hospital at Invercargill had about 93% occupancy yesterday, which was not uncommon for this time of year, Southern District Health Board executive director of nursing and midwifery Leanne Samuel said.

Likewise, Dunedin Hospital's occupancy was ''in the early 90s'' and the smaller hospitals throughout the regions were also busy, she said.

''On average over the last two months both Dunedin and Invercargill have probably sat in the early 90s.

''Sometimes we'll have 100% occupancy, sometimes it will be around 80%.''

It meant some patients would be placed in a critical care ward instead of a general ward because that was where space and staff were available, Ms Samuel said.

Patients were not being turned away from Southern hospitals, but some might be transferred among SDHB facilities depending on their needs and the availability of services.

Ms Samuel said that was ''business as usual'' and no cause for concern.

''From time to time our hospitals are full.

''They certainly do experience seasonal swings, for example Queenstown and Central Otago can be busy over the tourist period including Christmas and New Year.''

Southland Hospital had ''quite a few'' acute admissions during the past few days, but things had settled slightly by yesterday, Ms Samuel said.

Patients were placed within various parts of the hospital depending on their requirements and nursing resources, she said.

''It's a flexible system and it needs to be, so we can manage patients as they come and go.

''We have a number of discharges every day and a number of admissions.''

The SDHB's operations centre managed all patient movements throughout the regions, Ms Samuel said.

-rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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