ED staff brace for busy end to winter

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 08:11 03/08/2012
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An increase in people presenting with pneumonia at Palmerston North Hospital's emergency department has staff bracing for a busy end to the winter.

Palmerston North Hospital ED staff noted more cases of pneumonia, a serious respiratory disease infecting the lungs.

"We do get a lot of pneumonia but this year we've had more than usual," MidCentral Health service manager Iona Bichan said. Hospital staff hope there is no spike in flu cases to add to the burden.

"We're waiting for the sudden influx to come," Ms Bichan said. "We've had a couple of little peaks. We haven't had the same as what they had in Christchurch or Wellington, but we're waiting for it to happen."

People could take simple steps at home and in the workplace to protect themselves from viruses circulating in the colder months, MidCentral hospital services operations director Lyn Horgan said.

"Good handwashing is essential to prevent the spread of stomach bugs and flu-like illnesses," Mrs Horgan said. "Winter time is always busy in the emergency department, so people are encouraged to focus on safety at work and at home and to prevent the spread of illnesses by good handwashing practices."

TIPS FOR AVOIDING THE FLU

Ask your doctor to vaccinate you against the flu. This is free for people aged 65 and over, and adults and children with certain long-term conditions such as asthma. Because the influenza virus changes frequently, you need to get vaccinated every year to stay immune. If you have the flu, avoid public places and close contact with other people. Wash and dry your hands properly, with hot water and soap. Cough and sneeze into a disposable tissue. 

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- Manawatu Standard

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