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The Canterbury DHB announced it will reopen ahead of the Waikari, Ellesmere and Darfield rural community hospitals because there is limited capacity in other aged care settings in Oxford.
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Becky Hickmott, executive director of nursing, said the majority of the residents who were shifted out of the hospitals due to the impact Covid-19 had on staffing were from Oxford Hospital. Staffing is at capacity in Oxford to provide care for the seven residents who wish to return.
In the districts surrounding the other three hospitals, there are beds available in other local aged residential care facilities, Hickmott says.
"Until we have sufficient staff to ensure the safe and appropriate care of their residents, their reopening will unfortunately be further delayed."
The CDHB closed the hospitals in early March, and 23 patients and residents were located at alternative facilities due to staffing concerns and the Omicron outbreak.
North Canterbury mayors and community leaders were concerned the hospitals may not reopen, particularly with the Government's new health reforms beginning to kick in on July 1.
Hickmott said there are still widespread and elevated Covid-19 infection rates among board staff and in the wider Canterbury community, including areas affected by the temporary closures.
"The current circumstances require a discussion with our rural communities on how we might deliver an improved mix of services in these rural areas that makes the best possible use of our resources, and allows some services to be provided closer to home," she said.
The CDHB says it is committed to investing in rural communities and wants to work in partnership with them and staff who know their communities best to develop a future service model based on modern, evidence-based practice.
A working group comprising clinical and operational staff, together with community representation, will be convened to develop a proposal on a possible future model of care in these communities.
"We are aiming to share the proposal in four to six weeks time," Hickmott said.
"We will then be looking for feedback, initially from staff.
"There also will be a process for listening to the views of the current residents and their families and later, the wider community.
"In the meantime, our focus will be on ensuring a smooth and welcoming return home for the seven residents coming back to the Oxford Community Hospital."