SDHB holiday staffing bolstered

District health board rosters for the holiday period have been drafted to have clinicians available for any southern incursion of Covid-19.

There have been no community transmission cases of the disease in the South since April, but with people expected to move around New Zealand during the holiday season the SDHB was not taking any chances, strategy, primary and community executive director Lisa Gestro told a board sub committee meeting on Monday.

"We need to have very robust plans in place and know that we can call teams back in at very short notice if there are any cases."

It had taken considerable work to ensure that was possible but public health staff had made themselves available if required, Ms Gestro said.

The staffing plan would have people on standby from Christmas through to the end of January.

Also, following a recent series of cases among postal workers in the North Island, the board was also working with WellSouth to establish a sustainable testing regime for all staff at Port Otago, Southport and Tiwai.

"This must occur every two weeks for all individuals that work directly with international ships," Ms Gestro said.

"Due to changes in the border order from the Ministry of Health there is also a requirement for any crew requesting shore leave to meet a series of requirements, including negative Covid-19 tests of all crew on board.

"This has led to a large increase in work for on-call health protection officers and a rapid development of processes and procedures to assist with this work."

Health of Older People portfolio manager Sharon Adler said southern aged-care facilities had been hugely fortunate so far not to have had a Covid-19 case, and staff were determined to keep it that way.

"The aged residential care sector was not designed to operate in a pandemic . . . every facility is aware that threat is still out there lurking and is planning for how they would manage."

However, high staff turnover was posing difficulties, with 19 managers departing in recent times, she said.

"The stress has been very significant in this sector over these months ... we have lost considerable years of experience in the sector."

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