Canterbury medical workers redeployed to Greymouth

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
Medical workers from Canterbury are being sent to help at Greymouth hospital, which has 21 staff in self-isolation following the death of a woman in her 70s from coronavirus.

They were treating the woman who on Sunday became the first person to die from Covid-19 in New Zealand.

Doctors initially thought the woman had the flu so staff were not wearing the full Covid-19 protective gear and that's why they're being isolated.

The West Coast DHB said rosters have been rejigged and some staff from Canterbury are helping to fill the gaps.

Canterbury District Health Board chief executive David Meates said those in isolation are nurses, doctors, phlebotomists and radiologists.

There were enough staff to fill the gaps, with some drafted in from the CDHB, he said.

Meanwhile, the nurses' union said it would be an emotional time for West Coast nurses, who are dealing with the first death from Covid-19 while also having to be isolated from their families.

Head of the New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Kerri Nuku said the situation was a lot for the nurses to deal with and her heart went out to all involved.

She is urging people to respect the lockdown and stay home.

More doctors and nurses may be redeployed

Doctors and nurses from NZ cities should be redeployed to smaller centres, which are likely to struggle with the impact of Covid-19, a rural doctors group says.

Rural General Practice Network chairwoman Fiona Bolden said the situation at Grey Base Hospital is unlikely to be the last and a plan needs to be made.

"The staffing level [in rural centres] is so small if they get taken out or even have to go into isolation - not necessarily being unwell themselves - then there's a huge great big gap in terms of provision of services to local rural populations."

Dr Bolden said there should be staff available in the bigger centres because so much elective surgery has been cancelled.

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