Hawke’s Bay Hospital extremely busy

Hawke’s Bay Hospital has postponed some elective surgery and its restricted visiting policy remains in place as RSV, (respiratory syncytial virus), presentations continue in children and increase in adults.

Hawke’s Bay Hospital currently has 27 children in its paediatric ward, mostly with respiratory illness. Other acute areas such as ICU and the Emergency Department remain very busy. Only one infant was needing ICU level care, today.

These numbers fluctuate continually as patients are discharged and others admitted.

Chief Medical and Dental Officer Robin Whyman said RSV was now affecting adults especially older people or those with underlying health conditions.  While adults mostly tended to have milder RSV symptoms, it could cause severe illness in adults with underlying lung disease or a weakened immune system, he said.

Staffing of the hospital had also been impacted as there was a lot of staff sickness and the district health board was calling in all casual staff to support the busy wards and acute areas, Dr Whyman said.

 “We have made the difficult decision to postpone eight elective surgeries today, and will review this again tomorrow to see if further surgeries during the week need to be postponed, to help reduce pressure on the hospital.”

Dr Whyman said he understood urgent care and general practices were also busy but it was important for people who were sick and progressively getting worse to get medical help early, to help prevent a hospital admission.

“It’s very important that parents and caregivers keep children warm and at home and away from other children if they are sick. Children who had younger siblings or babies at home should be kept away from early childcare centres and kōhanga reo where possible.

“The hand-washing, self-isolation and social distancing families followed so well during last year’s COVID-19 lockdown are a good guide to the care we need to control this RSV outbreak,” he said.

Pauses with breathing can be a symptom of severe RSV illness in babies and signs of this, especially in the very young meant they should be seen by a doctor urgently. People should also check in on older neighbours, friends and family to check they were okay.

Signs of when to seek medical attention urgently in children:

  • Audible wheezing sounds
  • Breathing very fast
  • Laboured breathing — the ribs seem to suck inward when the child breathes in
  • Seems very unwell
  • Sluggish or lethargic.

Visiting - Hawke’s Bay Hospital and Wairoa Hospital:

No visitors will be allowed in:

  • Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU)
  • Ata Rangi (maternity birthing unit, Hawke’s Bay Hospital)
  • Waioha (primary birthing unit, Hawke’s Bay Hospital)
  • Wairoa Maternity Unit
  • Children’s Ward Hawke’s Bay Hospital

Parents/guardians are exempt from the restrictions

  • Emergency Department is limited to 1 support person per patient
  • Intensive Care Unit (ICU) vising is limited to 2 visitors per patient once a day only.

Visitors to any area of our facilities may be asked to wear a mask or other protective wear.

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