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Increasing COVID-19 cases lead to visitor policy changes at MidCentral DHB

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Changes to the visitor policy at MidCentral District Health Board facilities have been introduced in response to increasing community cases of COVID-19.

The policy applies to visitors to MidCentral DHB facilities, including Palmerston North Hospital and Horowhenua Health Centre.

MidCentral District Health Board COVID-19 Senior Responsible Officer, Deborah Davies says that the changes, which are now in effect, work to reduce the potential for vulnerable patients and staff to be unknowingly exposed to COVID-19 through visitors.

"With Omicron cases quickly increasing across the rohe, we are now allowing one visitor over the age of 12 per patient. They can visit once a day and must visit between 10am and 8pm."

"Our partners in care programme, Mahi Tahi, will continue as usual, however there are some additional measures in place for both Kaimanaaki (partners in care) and visitors."

Davies says that the same rules do not apply to those visiting COVID-19 patients.

"If a COVID-19 positive patient would like visitors, it will be considered on a case by case basis in consultation with the identified nurse in charge."

Davies says that RAT testing may be required for certain patients and visitors to protect the patients who are at greater risk.

"Those attending outpatient appointments will not routinely be expected to have RATs tests. However there are some services and some clinics where vulnerable patients or certain procedures may make the risk of Omicron transmission higher. In these circumstances we may ask patients to have a RAT test, either before attending or at the clinic. Patients will be notified of this requirement before their appointment where possible or at their visit."

Increasing numbers of presentations at the Emergency Department has also led to a change.

"Patients being cared for in the Emergency Department are now only to be accompanied by essential support people, for example a parent/caregiver of a dependent child, or someone providing critical care support."

"We understand that this is a really challenging time for all in our community, and our priority is on ensuring that we can continue to safely provide care to those who need it the most. Our staff appreciate your understanding and support while we do this."

General Visitor Policy

- One visitor per person over the age of 12, one visit per day between 10am and 8pm.

- Masks are required for all visitors and Kaimanaaki.

- Visitors and Kaimanaaki at our facilities must not have symptoms of, or have tested positive for, COVID-19.

- Screening questions will be asked on arrival, and we will provide appropriate resources (i.e N95 masks) for those who have chosen not to get vaccinated to ensure their safety.

- Visitors will also need to scan in using the COVID Tracer app or allow Bluetooth tracing or sign in and provide contact details for contact tracing purposes.

- RAT testing may be required in certain specialties to protect the patients who are at great risk.

There are slight variations to this policy for the following areas of the hospital.

COVID-19 Ward/Patients

- Visits to COVID-19 patients will be considered on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the identified nurse in charge.

Emergency Department

- One essential support person only over the age of 12 (for example, one parent or caregiver can attend with a dependent child or adult, a support person may accompany a patient with disabilities, or a support person in the event of critical illness).

- The essential support person must wear a mask.

Maternity Ward and Outpatient Appointments

- One support person (over the age of 12) is able to stay during labour and delivery.

- The support person for the birthing parent is considered to be Kaimanaaki (a partner in care) under our Mahi Tahi programme. This means we will ask if they are vaccinated and provide appropriate protection for them based on their vaccination status (i.e. more protective N95 masks).

- Visitors and Kaimanaaki must not have symptoms of, or have tested positive for, COVID-19.

- One visitor (over the age of 12) is able to visit with you in the postnatal ward during visiting hours.

- Masks are not required by people in labour however everyone else must wear a mask.

- Depending on the individual circumstances - Kaimanaaki may be able to stay the night. Please discuss this with the person in charge at the postnatal ward.

- One support person may accompany a patient attending a scan or sensitive appointment.

Children's Ward and OutPatient Appointments

- One parent/legal guardian can accompany a child. This person can be swapped out with another parent/legal guardian, but must visit one at a time.

- The parent/legal guardian must wear a mask.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

- Parents may visit, one at a time. Masks must be worn at all times.

General OutPatient Appointments

- One support person may accompany a patient attending an outpatient appointment.

- The support person must wear a mask.

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