Thursday, December 9

Auckland DHBs would need ICU nurses for ‘ideally one month at a time’

Auckland hospitals under pressure with Covid-19 patients would need additional nurses for up to a month at a time, but may not require the 30 they have requested, says the DHB spokesperson.

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Auckland DHBs have called for up to 30 intensive care nurses across the country to be diverted to help with the Covid-19 response.

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Hospitals are treating 32 Covid-19 patients; 14 at Auckland City Hospital, 13 at Middlemore, and five at North Shore Hospital. Eight patients are in ICU.

Auckland DHB Provider Services Director Mike Shepherd, spokesperson for DHB Northern Region, said the call for ICU nurses was a “preparatory step” and that the hospitals had enough nurses to care for patients. patients who have.

The DHBs were thinking about the next few weeks and months, but they would need the nurses “reasonably quickly, mainly to start an orientation process and develop workforce availability.”

“I think it is very possible that these nurses come for orientation and not ask much of them, but I think that is the step that we are going to take next.

“We hope that people will probably come for a week, two weeks, ideally a month at a time.”

The health system would pay for accommodation costs, he said.

“We are certainly looking for or have arranged accommodation for these nurses, as well as transportation and other critical parts to be part of the workforce.”

Shepherd said there had been a “fantastic response” from DHB colleagues and nurses in New Zealand.

Pressure on Auckland hospitals from the Covid outbreak has also forced some patients to be transferred elsewhere.

Some spinal cord injury patients who would normally be sent to Manukau counties for treatment are being diverted to Christchurch.

Shepherd said only spinal cord patients had been sent elsewhere so far.

“We have not tried to divert any other patients at this stage.

“Those are patients from outside Auckland anyway, and that seemed like a wise step to me, because we know that spinal cord patients can sometimes require quite long ICU stays.

“We haven’t done that with other groups yet, and we know we can’t do that with some specialized groups that Auckland is interested in, in the country.”

Dr Andrew Stapleton, president of the New Zealand College of Intensive Care Medicine, said DHBs were prudent in planning as they had.

“You have to have a plan, and the plan in the first instance, if all the Covid is in one place, is to send staff to the Covid rather than patients outside of Auckland or the Covid area.

“I understand that it has taken the form of an expression of interest so that they know who would go if necessary.

“Auckland hospitals employ a large number of staff, many of whom have been to places of interest and are currently self-isolating, so they have a severe shortage of nurses, especially just by the time they are busy. “

The average length of stay for a Covid patient was 10 days, he said, so hospitals could quickly be overrun if the number of cases increased.

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