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Gastroenteritis outbreak at Southland Hospital

Issue date:

Patients and visitors to Southland Hospital are today being asked to take special precautions until further notice because the community outbreak of gastroenteritis in Invercargill is now affecting some hospital patients and staff.

Advanced infection prevention and control measures have been put in place at the hospital in order to contain the infection. Around seven staff have been affected throughout the hospital so far and are on leave until they recover.

Southland Hospital Acting General Manager, Jo McLeod said “all patients presenting at the Emergency Department are asked to declare any symptoms to staff immediately upon arrival.  This will mean that they can be appropriately supported and cared for in a way to avoid the spread of gastroenteritis to other patients and visitors”.

“While we are not turning patients away, we would ask people to consider whether it is appropriate for them to visit their GP in the first instance.  However, anyone clearly needing Emergency Department care shouldn’t hesitate to come to the hospital.

“We still want patients in need of ED care to come to the Emergency Department, but we want them to be aware how important it is to tell us if they have any symptoms.

“Patients presenting at ED are also asked to limit the number of visitors who accompany them, to help limit potential transmission.  We understand it is important to be supported by friends or whānau, but to keep patients, staff and visitors safe we need to limit the number of visitors to ED at this time.”

“People should not enter the hospital as a visitor if they are sick, this includes cold or flu symptoms, or diarrhoea and vomiting.

“Everyone entering the hospital, as a patient or visitor, is asked to observe hand hygiene practices including washing their hands and using the hand sanitiser located at stations throughout the complex.

“People are still able to visit patients on the wards, but we would ask that if your visit can be delayed, that you do so. We also ask people to avoid visiting in groups, to minimise the spread of transmission,” she said.

“We are asking our Southland community to help protect our hospital patients and staff by observing these health and hygiene measures.

“To reduce the risk of outbreaks we would encourage people to stay at home when they are unwell, this includes when people have a gastroenteritis bug.

“Hand hygiene is very important - wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and dry well. Portable alcohol-based hand rub is ideal when out and about. Cough and sneeze etiquette and respiratory hygiene is important, use tissues rather than hankies, wash your hands afterwards and cough/sneeze into your elbow,” she said.