SDHB plans for Covid worst-case scenario

Southern DHB chief executive Chris Fleming says Dunedin Hospital is doing its best amid heavy...
Southern DHB chief executive Chris Fleming. Photo: ODT files
Clinicians are planning for a Covid-19 worst-case scenario in which close to 900 cases a week are reported in Otago and Southland and 40 people are in hospital.

Full details of how the Southern District Health Board is preparing to manage if the pandemic disease becomes an endemic one in the region will be unveiled at a board meeting on Tuesday.

However, preliminary details are in the board agenda and make sobering reading.

‘‘We will be living with Covid within our community (and) it is vital that we move swiftly into the preparedness for living with Covid in the southern region,’’ board chief executive Chris Fleming said.

‘‘The numbers are concerning and we must plan for the worst-case scenario.’’

The modelling, drafted by SDHB quality and clinical governance solutions interim executive director Dr Hywel Lloyd, suggested southern hospitals risked being overwhelmed with cases if the worst projections of 40 hospitalisations and four patients needing intensive care came to pass, Mr Fleming said.

‘‘Given the average length of stay for patients being hospitalised, this would indicate hospital occupancy of between two to three times this level.’’

Primary care providers would be expected to be care for at least 95% of all cases in the community and those services would be critical to the South managing Covid-19, Mr Fleming said.

‘‘It is therefore vital that whilst robust hospital plans must be in place, primary and community settings, transport arrangements, and psycho-social/welfare arrangements are as critically important.’’

There has not been a community case of Covid-19 in the South since last year, but

four positive cases have now been diagnosed in Christchurch.

On Thursday, sections of the Macraes mine, in East Otago, were closed for deep cleaning after a site contractor was notified their partner was a close contact.

Yesterday, 125 community cases were reported by the Ministry of Health, 118 in Auckland, four in Waikato, one in Northland, and two in Christchurch.

Last week Dr Lloyd said SDHB modelling was based on an outbreak causing 300 to 400 community cases. The SDHB’s new modelling was based on details of the Government’s planned new traffic light system of Covid-19 management and the latest Otago and Southland vaccination rates.

Mr Fleming said the drive to vaccinate as many people as possible should stop at nothing.

‘‘Despite our amazing results Maori, Pacific Island, and lower socio-economic parts of our society continue to lag behind.’’

The SDHB would set up a steering and a governance group to manage the next stage of pandemic management, Mr Fleming said.

‘‘This is the biggest single risk for both our organisation and our community.

‘‘If the pandemic is not managed effectively, the health system will be placed under more and more strain and access to planned care will be jeopardised.’’