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A huge amount of work meant the southern region had "dodged a bullet" and avoided cases of Covid-19 in an aged care facility, a Southern District Health Board committee meeting was told yesterday.
The South had one of the highest number of cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, including three significant clusters, but did not experience fatal outbreaks of the disease in aged care, as happened in Auckland and Christchurch.
The board’s community and public health and disability committee meeting yesterday considered a report on aged care preparedness, which found several of the 65 facilities in the region had been under-prepared for Covid-19 and had had to take urgent steps to improve plans.
"There but for the grace of God we dodged that bullet," SDHB strategy, primary and community executive director Lisa Gestro said.
"That was because of a huge amount of work done in the aged residential care sector in terms of preparedness for any outbreak."
The report’s recommendations had been through a clinical review process and were being put into action, Ms Gestro said.
It had highlighted issues with supply of personal protective equipment which were being addressed, she said.
"PPE was a well-canvassed issue across the board ... the Ministry [of Health] devolved responsibility for supplying aged care providers to local DHBs, so we did have quite a good handle on saying with certainty that there was a level of preparedness, although I don’t pretend for a minute that it was perfect.
"There was a process that was local and we felt that we did our job."