Saturday, November 27

Mystery Middlemore Hospital Covid-19 Case: ‘We knew it was inevitable’


As health authorities rush to investigate a mysterious Covid-19 infection at Middlemore Hospital, and figure out how to cover the staff shortage, unions and opposition parties have called the handling of the case a failure and a disaster.

Middlemore Hospital

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

A man was admitted on Saturday that he unknowingly had the virus, prompting the closure of four rooms with 29 retired employees.

Today the health authorities have not been able to say how the patient and eight of his relatives contracted the virus, if any of them were vaccinated and exactly how many other surgeries and patients were affected.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said Control his understanding “is that there is a link” and he was working to find it.

Health Director-General Ashley Bloomfield said there are no sights and said Auckland health authorities had assessed it as a low-risk event for the community.

“They’re having ongoing conversations with individual members of that family, in part, just to see if they can get to the bottom of how the first person in that household got infected and find their link to the larger outbreak.”

Inside Middlemore Hospital, the medical director, Dr. Pete Watson, admitted that there were no rooms available in the ward to isolate the man as soon as the virus was suspected.

The case arose at a time when many staff members were already off work because they had been to a place of interest.

The kaiwhakahaere nurses organization Keri Nuku said it had exposed a faulty and under-resourced healthcare system, which was not prepared for Covid-19.

“This is the frustrating part of this. We knew it was inevitable, but we certainly weren’t prepared. And being prepared meant having well-resourced and functional rooms where there are a lot of staff,” he said.

As the counties Manukau District Board of Health is reviewing the incident, Dr. Bloomfield says he does not believe there was negligence, and Health Minister Andrew Little says the hospital is well placed to deal with the virus.

Dr. Pete Watson defended the hospital’s front door screening process saying there was no way of knowing that the man, who presented with abdominal pain, had Covid-19.

He said that abdominal pain would now be checked on the Covid questionnaire.

National Party leader Judith Collins called the situation a “mess.”

She said the number one item that should be available to hospitals is the rapid antigen test for Covid-19.

“It’s only 15 minutes to see if the test shows Covid. Then they could have taken more appropriate action,” he said.

Green Party leader James Shaw also believed that the situation could have been avoided.

“As long as you don’t have enough staff and you underpay the staff you do have, you run the risk of a high error rate,” he said.

Law enforcement leader David Seymour said the delay before the man was placed in solitary confinement appeared to be due in part to a change in staffing shifts.

“There were also major problems with personnel coming in and out and not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) going in and out of that ward. So those are major problems,” he said.

The executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, Sarah Dalton, says that grouping staff into separate “groups” and reducing the number of patients has minimized the impact of the case.

But you can also think of some ways Middlemore Hospital could have been better prepared.

“The outdated state of hospital facilities, the need to rely on shared rooms with only curtains between them, the lack of negative pressure rooms, is really exposing our hospitals as very vulnerable, should admissions for Covid increase, or with unknown Covid, “he said. said.

It’s unclear how many staff members the Manukau District Board of Health is trying to bring in from the counties to cover those who dropped out and how many patients will be deferred.

Personnel are already being brought in from across the country to fill the shortage in Auckland.


www.rnz.co.nz

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