More services, visitors at hospitals

Dunstan Hospital. Photo: ODT
Dunstan Hospital. Photo: ODT
Hospitals across the South have outlined how they will operate under Covid-19 Alert Level 2.

At Dunstan hospital, Central Otago Health Services chief executive Kathryn de Luc said it was working towards bringing as many health services back as it could while ensuring it stuck to Level 2 parameters.

Telehealth remained a key factor for people in rural communities where distance was an issue and for vulnerable people, Dr de Luc said.

‘‘We are also exploring more ways to hold virtual clinics with the specialist services in Dunedin Hospital where it is effective and efficient to do so.’’

Screening of patients and visitors as they entered the hospital would continue and was required for contact tracing, she said.

The hospital would continue to ask visitors to contact the ward before coming in.

The location of chemotherapy day services would remain in the occupational therapy gym, as in Level 3.

The Southern District Health Board was set to further relax its visitor policy this week, but warned people to remain cautious.

Visiting conditions at Lakes District Hospital in Queenstown and Southland Hospital allowed one nominated visitor per patient, once per day between 2pm and 6pm.

A decision was yet to be made as to when this policy would be loosened, but an announcement was expected this week.

SDHB chief executive Chris Fleming said staff were considering how best to manage an expected increase in visitors as safely and effectively as possible, which included robust screening procedures.

Non-urgent surgery and outpatient appointments were gradually resuming under Level 2 in order of clinical priority, and essential services — district nursing, home care services, home and community rehabilitation services, hospice and Meals on Wheels — would continue unchanged.

Low-risk patients were able to access a ‘‘normal range of dental care’’, and blood test and sexual health clinic services also remained available.

Several medical centres in the Queenstown Lakes area and Southland offered Covid-19 testing, as did the Kurow Medical Centre in the Waitaki District.

Waitaki District Health Services chief executive Ruth Kibble said staff at Oamaru Hospital who had been working from home were now back ‘‘in the office’’, and asked people visiting patients at the hospital to make sure they followed the screening procedures in place — similar to those instigated by the Southern DHB — to ensure the health of themselves, staff and patients.

Outpatient appointments were also resuming under Level 2, she said.

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