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The Southern region has to plan for Covid-19-positive patients in hospitals and medical centres in the future, a meeting was told yesterday.
"In a pandemic, it is OK to shut everything down and cancel all planned care but in an endemic it isn’t, so we need to think about how we can keep the hospital operating," Southern District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming told a board meeting yesterday.
"There is nothing you can do with the facility which will fix the problem for tomorrow, but six months isn’t tomorrow and a year isn’t tomorrow, so we need to address things that can be addressed in that time."
The SDHB discussed its Covid-19 management plans in a public-excluded session yesterday, but beforehand Mr Fleming said the organisation needed to start thinking about a time when Covid-19 was no longer a pandemic but an endemic disease.
"If we plan for it as an endemic disease then we should be able to manage before the borders open at some stage in the future and so when Covid arrives ... we are able to deal with it."
The Otago Daily Times reported last month that both the SDHB and primary health organisation WellSouth have each been working on Covid-19 planning, which would include how hospitals and medical centres would manage suspected and actual cases of the disease.
Mr Fleming told yesterday’s meeting that some disease prevention measures, notably the lack of anterooms at the Southland Hospital emergency department, "had been removed for budget savings which now, with hindsight, look daft" and should be rectified.
He said it was heartening and commendable that the SDHB was leading the country in almost every Covid-19 vaccination category, but that there was still a long way to go.
There were 24 new Covid-19 cases in the community yesterday, 18 in Auckland and six in Waikato.
There were 2,059,285 people fully vaccinated yesterday — 49% of the eligible population.