Dunedin Hospital at full stretch coping with seasonal illnesses

Dunedin Hospital was at 100% capacity yesterday, but a Southern District Health Board spokesman says the hospital is coping.

All hospitals in Otago and Southland were extremely busy, a DHB press release said.

Nursing executive director Leanne Samuel said hospitals were busy with influenza-like illness, pneumonia and winter injuries.

Higher-than-normal levels of staff sickness were exacerbating the situation.

Southland Hospital was at 97% capacity.

GPs had been asked to send Central Otago patients needing hospital admission to Invercargill rather than Dunedin.

Two people were in Dunedin's intensive care unit with flu-like illnesses.

The spokesman said other winter-related illnesses and complications such as pneumonia were a bigger factor at Dunedin Hospital than flu-like illness, although things could change very quickly.

The situation was being managed through bed rotation, with longer waiting times in the emergency department a likely consequence of full capacity.

Ms Samuel said many patients had a high level of illness, meaning longer stays in hospital.

"We are working to manage this at a district level with input from medical, nursing, allied health and management staff.

"All staff are making a tremendous effort to manage the extra workload and we appreciate the positive approach staff are taking as we navigate this very busy time."

A weekly flu update yesterday from ESR showed that in the week ending August 5, Southern DHB's rate of consultations for flu-like illness was about 230 per 100,000 population.

The national average was 154.1.

- eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz


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