Woman upset as Southland Hospital bars visitors

Southland Hospital has shut three wards due to Covid-19. Photo: ODT files
Southland Hospital has shut three wards due to Covid-19. Photo: ODT files
Southland Hospital is defending closing wards due to Covid-19, acknowledging this is upsetting for people, but it needs to protect vulnerable patients.

The DHB said there are 'multiple Covid-19 exposures' which has forced it to shut the medical, surgical and rehabilitation wards.

Dr Hywel Lloyd. Photo: ODT files
Dr Hywel Lloyd. Photo: ODT files
Dr Hywel Lloyd, who leads the Southern DHB's Covid-19 response, said two patients, one on the rehabilitation ward and another on the medical ward, both tested positive on Friday followed by two more, one in each ward.

Two patients on the surgical ward have also since tested positive, he said.

There are restrictions in other areas of the hospital also with those needing medical assistance from the emergency department limited to having one support person.

Woman says she was interrogated

A woman who spoke to RNZ said her 96-year-old grandmother died in the hospital with no family by her side.

The woman, who RNZ has agreed not to name, understood that measures needed to be introduced to safeguard others during the pandemic, however, "turning a hospital into prison is not the way to go about it".

People recovered if they had the "love and positivity" of family, she said.

She also complained of being interrogated while trying to visit her terminally ill mother-in-law who is a patient at the hospital.

'We don't do this lightly'

Dr Lloyd said the woman's experience with her grandmother was "an incredibly sad difficult situation" and the hospital appreciated the positive influence whānau provided during hospital visits to their relatives.

"We don't do this lightly. We've got significant pressures to ensure that our patients remain safe and we need to ensure that our staff don't get infected because we've got significant staffing shortages and to maintain the care for our in-patients is paramount for us."

Responding to complaints that families were being interrogated while trying to visit patients, he said that was unacceptable.

Logistically it would be time-consuming and "incredibly difficult" to administer a rapid antigen test to every potential visitor.

The hospital is unsure if a visitor or staff member has introduced the infection.

The region still has high numbers of cases and inquiries into the source are continuing.

Latest Ministry of Health figures show there are 568 new community cases of Covid-19  in the South and 4961 active cases in total.



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