Ross Home lockdown after outbreak

Ross Home and Hospital, in Dunedin, is likely to be in lockdown until Monday, following a gastroenteritis outbreak.

About 30 residents and 12 staff have been ill with gastroenteritis, which originated from a resident who transferred from an eighth-floor ward of Dunedin Hospital.

Meanwhile, the outbreak that threw parts of Dunedin Hospital into chaos this week is easing. One ward had reopened yesterday. The other affected ward remains designated for gastroenteritis patients.

Presbyterian Support Otago services for older people director Maurice Burrowes said the Ross Home outbreak started on Tuesday. Affected residents and staff had been ill with vomiting and/or diarrhoea.

''It's relatively short and sharp - eight to 12 hours, and no-one's had to be hospitalised.

''We've been fortunate that it hasn't impacted too significantly in our staffing, and that the wider community, family, and friends, have been understanding and can see why we've had to close the doors for the moment.''

The facility would reopen its doors on Monday, depending on whether there were new cases. Yesterday afternoon Mr Burrowes said there had been three new cases in the previous 24 hours, none of them among staff.

The first ill resident had transferred from a Dunedin Hospital eighth-floor ward on May 17. The person did not show symptoms for a couple of days. The eighth floor was not affected by the Dunedin Hospital outbreak at that stage, Mr Burrowes said.

The bug had affected all units in the facility, which has 125 residents.

The results of tests to determine the type of gastroenteritis would not be known for at least a week. Mr Burrowes said the Southern District Health Board formally advised rest homes on Thursday of the hospital outbreak, which perhaps could have been sooner. He would be following up with the board to discuss the matter.

SDHB patient services medical director Dick Bunton said there had been one new case of gastroenteritis at the hospital, in a patient. The situation was easing, Dr Bunton said yesterday afternoon.

''I won't pretend that we've got a surfeit of beds and we're back to complete normality, but it is better.''

Fewer patients had presented at ED yesterday than on Thursday. ED had been stretched coping with higher than usual number of presentations, and a lack of patient flow caused by ward closures.

Mr Bunton confirmed one patient waited 26 hours to be discharged from the ED. He was not sure if it was due to the stress on the department.

More elective surgery operations had to be postponed yesterday. He did not know many.

The intensive care unit had been at capacity all week, unrelated to gastroenteritis. No patients had been transferred from ICU to other centres, although that was an option, Mr Bunton said.

Clutha Health First chief executive Ray Anton said the Balclutha hospital's inpatient ward remained closed to admissions due to gastroenteritis, but would hopefully reopen on Monday.

- eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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