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Traffic light orange brings few changes for Southern DHB

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Southern DHB operations at Traffic Light Orange will look very similar to Alert Level 2, at least in the meantime, says Southern DHB Acting Chief Operations Officer, Hamish Brown.

As with Alert Level 2, visitors are asked to stay away if they are sick, wear a mask, scan in and keep two metres from people you do not know in public areas, and one metre apart where this is not practical.

Patients are able to use health services whether or not they are vaccinated against COVID-19. There is no restriction on whether visitors are vaccinated.

However people on Southern DHB sites for business purposes are required to be vaccinated.

Changes to DHB operations may occur in the future, however, and would be triggered by local cases of COVID-19 in the community.

“We’re anticipating changes to our screening process for both patients and visitors as we begin to see COVID in our community, and we continue to provide as safe an environment as possible for our patients,” says Mr Brown.

Preparation work is in progress across the Southern region.

For example, at Dunedin Hospital a temporary wall in the main foyer will create a separate entrance for patients who are suspected to have COVID-19. This entrance was in place during the lockdown in 2020 and will mean the drop off area in the hospital concourse will not be available when the works are complete.

Thank you Southern community – from your health providers

The Southern health system is as ready as it can be for COVID cases, and the people of the district are to thank.

“It is a very different proposition planning to provide health care in a highly vaccinated community compared to one where there are low rates of vaccination,” says Southern DHB acting Director of Quality and Clinical Governance, Dr Hywel Lloyd.

“We have some of the highest vaccination rates in the country thanks to the hard work and efforts of our vaccination teams, and thanks to the southern public who have supported the campaign. Currently the southern vaccination coverage is 95% of southerners have had their first vaccination and 88.4% are fully vaccinated. We’re in a good position to keep cases to a minimum if we all follow the COVID Protection Framework rules, and everyone who is eligible gets vaccinated,” says Dr Lloyd.

“Of course there are many unknowns, but what we do know is that whatever we face, it would have been much worse had you not taken the step to protect yourselves, and your health system, from COVID-19. So thank you.”

Southern Health Coordination Centre ready to support

A Southern Health Coordination Centre will ensure a joined up response to COVID cases across the primary and secondary sectors.  “This has been planned for many weeks in partnership with WellSouth to prepare to safely manage COVID positive patients safely in the community, and in hospital if patients need care there,” says Southern DHB acting Director of Quality and Clinical Governance, Dr Hywel Lloyd.

Dr Lloyd has been leading the COVID-19 planning and says most patients will be cared for at home. “We will be working closely with primary and community partners, Māori and Pacific health providers to ensure we're joined up and supporting people to recover well at home.”

The community continues to have an important part to play in the next stage of preparing for COVID in the community.

“Although we have plans for caring for COVID patients, the most important message is to get vaccinated if you haven’t already, and make sure you get your second shot or booster if it’s due. It’s also important to scan in wherever you go, get your vaccine pass, wear a mask and stay at home and get tested if you have any COVID symptoms even if they are mild.”

“We’re also encouraging people to start thinking about, and start making plans should they catch COVID-19. They need to think about how they look would after themselves and their family, how would they get food, medication or look after pets. Support will be available but the public need to be prepared.

“There are simple, practical things the public can do to prepare in case they or someone in their household becomes ill or when COVID-19 becomes common in our community.”

Useful information including a checklist can be found on the Southern Health website, and the Unite against COVID-19 website has lots of useful resources to help people plan.

To book a COVID vaccination

You can book your appointment online at bookmyvaccine.nz or 0800 28 29 26.

More information and to find your nearest vaccine clinic can be found at www.southernhealth.nz/COVID19/vaccine

To get a COVID test

It is free to get a COVID-19 test. Residents or visitors can contact 0800 VIRUS-19 (0800 847 8719) or book a test through their GP. Please do not attend the Emergency Department to seek a test.

Media enquiries and interview requests: SDHB Communications, communications@southerndhb.govt.nz.