Saturday, November 27

Concerns are growing about the health system’s ability to deal with Covid-19

With the country recording triple-digit cases for the first time since Covid-19 arrived in New Zealand, there is an increased focus on how the healthcare system will cope.

Inside the generic Hospital

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Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Today 102 community cases were reported.

There are 46 people hospitalized with the virus, including seven in intensive care or a high dependency unit.

Some experts say that while the short-term rise will be difficult, it is the future that needs serious consideration.

ICU physician and intensive care professor Dr. Paul Young said that since the current outbreak shows no signs of slowing down, the pressure on the healthcare system is great.

“For a short-term increase, we will do whatever we have to do. We will adapt and commit until we have used all the equipment we have available.

“That will mean reducing the number of personnel, and we can do it for a short period of time, and in fact we hope so too, but we cannot operate under an emergency augmentation model for an indefinite period.”

Young’s biggest concern was New Zealand’s ability to care for an additional load of patients every day for the next year.

A rise in Covid-19 would put hospitals into “emergency mode,” thus reducing procedures to deal with an influx, he said.

“That will mean canceling elective cardiac surgery and elective cancer surgery that requires intensive care. But operating under an emergency model for a very sustained period of time will have serious consequences for patients and will mean that we see worse outcomes for critically ill patients. not just with Covid, but with all the conditions that put people in an intensive care unit, “he said.

College of Critical Care Nurses President Tania Mitchell said healthcare workers were preparing for an illness that would remain for the foreseeable future.

“In the long term, it is much more difficult to maintain from a workforce depletion point of view, but also from a capacity point of view.

“Now we realize that we often don’t have enough intensive care beds and we end up postponing surgery until an ICU bed and a qualified intensive care nurse are available to care for patients, so that will just get worse. “.

Australasian College of Emergency Medicine President John Bonning remained optimistic, saying the sector was not going to implode.

“It’s going to be busy. It’s going to be difficult. We’ll have to hold on a little bit,” he said.

“We have a great healthcare system with great people who provide excellent care. We are under the bomb, but we will.”

Mitchell said nurses across the country were waiting for Covid-19 patients to walk through the hospital doors.

“We are as prepared as we can be for that, but there is nervous anticipation of what that entails, not only for our workforce and our colleagues, but also for patients.

“We don’t want large numbers of patients needing to be seriously ill in hospital. Some will die from Covid.”

Health Director General Ashley Bloomfield said authorities would not allow New Zealand hospitals to get into a position where they were overwhelmed.

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