Earthquake recovery a daily reality for health system

Last updated 05:00 11/12/2012
David Rutherford and David Meates

PATIENT FIRST: CDHB's chief executive (right), David Meates, meets with Human Rights Commission representative David Rutherford to discuss how to better the health system's services.

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Despite ongoing challenges, the Canterbury District Health Board has many exciting redevelopment projects planned, focusing on making services better for patients.

David Meates, chief executive of the Canterbury District Health Board, knows that now is a time of change for the Canterbury health system. He says there are new challenges to tackle daily, and recognises that the long-term impacts of the earthquakes are just beginning.

"The challenges have been enormous. However, the whole health system in Canterbury, including those who work for the district health board and in the community, have come together to ensure people's health and wellbeing remains a priority."

Meates is proud of how staff have reacted to recent challenges. "Since the first quake in September 2010, the people working in the Canterbury health system have demonstrated remarkable strength and professionalism, frequently putting the needs of patients ahead of their own," he says.

CDHB is responsible for the planning, funding and delivery of health services in Canterbury which includes more than 50 per cent of the South Island's population. It also provides a range of specialist services to people throughout the South Island and lower North Island.

"The District Health Board takes a whole-of-health system approach. It's focused on providing the right care, by the right person, at the right time, in the right place," Meates says.

The whole system includes Community and Public Health, primary care, aged residential care, non-government organisations and community nursing, as well as hospital care, so patients have access to support when and where they need it.

This approach has meant expanding patient care and support with communitybased care services such as CREST, Community Rehabilitation Enablement Support Teams. CREST provides a wide range of services in a person's own home, meaning patients can avoid being admitted to hospital, or if they are admitted, return home sooner.

"Decisions are made based on what's best for the patient and for the whole health system by encouraging staff to put the patient at the centre of everything they do," Meates says.

"Every day 16,000 people working within the Canterbury health system are striving to deliver the best possible patient experience."

CDHB is committed to helping people stay healthy in their homes and community. It increasingly invests time to a variety of agencies that support healthy lifestyles, focusing on smoking, alcohol, immunisation and housing.

"We are continuing to develop services in primary care and the community that will support people to stay well and take increased responsibility for their own health," Meates says.

"This frees up hospital-based services to provide the necessary acute and elective services to support people who require complex care and give specialist advice to other providers."

In the next couple of years, CDHB plan to put more attention on programmes and initiatives to help keep people well. A particular focus will be put upon reducing alcohol-related harm, managing influenza and avoidable hospital admissions, preventing hospitalised patients from harm, improving end of life care and working towards zero harm rates from falls.

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"It's important for people to feel supported by us, but also feel empowered to take their health into their own hands," Meates says.

"Health begins where we live, work, learn and play."

On an average day in the Canterbury health system:

  • 3,369 people are seen in general practice 
  • 34 people have a diabetes check 
  • 88 women have a cervical smear 
  • 263 children and young people have a free dental check 
  • $379,452 is spent on pharmaceuticals 
  • $64,658 is spent on laboratory tests 
  • 230 people are seen in the emergencydepartment 
  • 297 people are admitted to hospital 
  • 3 people die in hospital 
  • 31 people access mental health services 
  • 45 people have elective surgery 
  • 85 women have a breast cancer screen 
  • 1,202 people have a follow-upappointment in an outpatient service 
  • 7 cases of infectious diseases are notified 
  • 16 babies are born

As a result of the earthquakes:

  • 200 CDHB buildings were damaged
  • 12,000 hospital rooms were damaged
  • 630 rest home beds were lost 
  • 105 acute inpatient beds were lost 
  • $180 million will be spent on repairs to CDHB buildings 
  • Around 10,000 people accessed mental health support via GPs (July 2011 -October 2012)

- The Press

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