Surge in winter illnesses impacting Hawke’s Bay’s health system

12 July 2017

The surge of winter illnesses in Hawke’s Bay is impacting the whole of the Hawke’s Bay health system and there is important advice for locals on how to best manage their care.

Wayne Woolrich, General Manager of primary health organisation Health Hawke’s Bay said today walk-in medical centres in both Napier and Hastings had reported almost double the number of presentations in recent days. Doctors' clinics were also reporting to be extremely busy.

“Hastings Health Centre accident and medical was at 135 presentations today when they normally average 75 to 80 whilst Napier’s City Medical had jumped from an average of 90 presentations to 134,” said Mr Woolrich.

“The general message from our health professionals out in the community is that they are incredibly busy and there is also some teams who have staff away with illness themselves across clinics and pharmacies.

“Some patients are experiencing a little longer in wait times to be seen but our health professionals are working as efficiently as humanly possible and we ask for their understanding and patience,” he said.

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board chief medical officer of primary care, Dr Mark Peterson, said if people were feeling unwell and it wasn’t an emergency, then contacting their doctor should still be their first point of call. However, there were options for self care too.

“Doctors clinics are busy but many teams will be able to offer advice over the telephone about what the next best steps for the patient is, depending on the symptoms.

“Keeping your medications up-to-date is also important, so a phone call to request another script will avoid the need to visit your doctor in person or if you’re unsure what medications to take while you are ill, you can always contact your pharmacist.

“Healthline on 0800-611-116 is also a good first step because it offers free 24/7 health advice by registered nurses.”

Meanwhile, Hawke’s Bay Hospital remains under pressure.

Chief medical officer Dr John Gommans said the emergency department was busy and there had been an increase in admissions of patients with respiratory illness to its medical wards.  Staff illnesses, or staff caring for dependant family members who were sick, had also impacted on its services with some minor elective surgeries needing to be postponed.

Masks and sanitising gel were being provided throughout the hospital to try and protect its staff and others from people presenting with flu-like systems and maternity services had placed a restriction on visiting to best protect mothers and newborn babies from people experiencing flu-like illnesses.

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