Wellington hospitals fill with winter ills
Hospital wards in the Wellington region are bulging with patients as winter illnesses start to ramp up.
A shortage of beds has prompted Capital & Coast District Health Board to ask GPs not to refer patients unless they are very unwell.
Chief operating officer Chris Lowry said Wellington Hospital was experiencing an exceedingly high volume of patients because of winter illness.
And many of those people were having to be admitted.
"Our in-patient wards are currently close to, or at, capacity and to ensure we have room for acutely unwell patients we have asked GPs, where appropriate, to not refer patients unless they are very unwell."
Deputy chief medical officer Grant Pidgeon said the emergency department was busier than usual for this time of year.
In the first six days of August, 919 patients were treated in ED, about 200 more patients than were normally seen in the same period.
"While we are seeing a slow increase in the number of flu cases presenting, we are also seeing a lot of elderly people with general respiratory problems and chest pains," Mr Pidgeon said.
Staff leave had not been cancelled as a result of the influx, but leave for internal study courses was being reviewed.
Palmerston North Hospital was full over the past week largely due to the ills of winter, spokesman Dennis Geddis said.
There was an increase in respiratory complaints such as bronchiolitis in children, pneumonia, acute-on-chronic lung disease, and flu-like illness.
The hospital's wards were not over capacity yesterday afternoon but this could change by today as ED was "very busy", he said.
Hawke's Bay Hospital was full and its emergency department was busy coping with a wide range of winter-related illnesses and acute presentations, spokeswoman Anna Kirk said.
"To date the hospital hasn't seen an increase in flu-like presentations. However, the district health board is advising people to stay at home if they have a cold or flu-like illness."
Staying home from work or school when sick would help prevent the spread.
Washing and drying hands often and covering coughs and sneezes were also recommended.
Nationally, influenza cases continue to rise and the A(H3N2) strain was still predominant in many regions, according to Environmental Science and Research.
Related story: Tips on how to fight the flu
- © Fairfax NZ News
Family counts blessings after superbug scare (graphic content)
Do you always wear a helmet while cycling?Related story: Cyclists creative on cycle helmet waivers