Hawke’s Bay Hospital is at capacity and the public are being asked that unless it is an emergency, can they please seek care from their doctor.
Chief medical officer Dr John Gommans says the hospital has been busy for a number of days with patients presenting with a wide variety of illnesses and injuries.
However, he says with the onset of more influenza-like-illness and other winter virus presentations, as well as a number of staff or dependent family members also affected, this has seen a knock-on effect to the hospital and steps were being made to cope with demand.
As a result, Dr Gommans says surgeries were being reshuffled and, in some cases, a small number of minor elective surgeries had been postponed until further notice.
He says people starting to feel unwell with the winter type viruses were encouraged to seek early advice from their doctor, pharmacist or Healthline.
“Please remember that the Emergency Department is the place to go for life threatening, urgent treatment,” says Dr Gommans.
“People with minor injuries or illness, such as colds, can expect to wait for long periods to be seen as patients needing urgent care are always prioritised.
“Please also be tolerant of ED staff who put patient needs first and foremost with the most urgent cases always seen ahead of others.”
Dr Gommans also has an important message for visitors of patients.
“Please try and avoid visiting someone in hospital if you are feeling unwell,” he says.
“However, if this is unavoidable, make sure you use one of the hospital masks provided and sanitising gel on your hands.”
Chief medical officer of primary care Dr Mark Peterson says GPs are also extremely busy.
However, he encourages people to make an appointment with their family doctor before they got so sick that they needed hospital care.
He says they can also call Healthline 0800 611 116 for free health advice 24 hours a day.
Dr Peterson reminds people that it was not too late to get the flu vaccine if they hadn’t already done so to protect themselves or vulnerable people close to them.
“The flu vaccine is free for many people, and is especially important for pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses so they can protect themselves from the flu viruses circulating,” he says.
For more information on where to find a family doctor and other health information people could check www.ourhealthhb.nz which provided health information specifically for Hawke’s Bay people.
If you feel unwell you can help reduce the spread of the virus by:
Staying at home if you are unwell. Covering your cough or sneeze using disposable tissues. Regularly washing your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water, and then dry your hands with a clean dry towel or paper towel.
Contact your GP or local medical centre to get the influenza immunisation. Further information on general hygiene and influenza can be found at:
0800 IMMUNE – 0800 466 863 Healthline – 0800 611 116 – free 24/7 service with registered nurses fightflu.co.nz