The room that separates the Southern Lakes from Covid-19

by Peter Newport - Mar 03, 2020

A specialist negative pressure isolation room at the Lakes District Hospital is ready for an outbreak, or single case, of Covid-19 in the Southern Lakes.

The room sits in the new wing of the hospital and is designed so that an open door will see air drawn into the room - rather than out. This pressure difference should stop the escape of the Covid-19 virus if a patient is isolated here.

The room also includes a separate scrubbing room where medical staff can sterilise themselves before entering or leaving the isolation unit.

The sterile entry room where staff get ready to enter the isolation unit, and also clean themselves on exit.

There's also a full stock of sterile gowns and masks. The room has been used already for other suspected infectious diseases, since the completion of the new wing late last year.

Crux asked the SDHB's Medical Officer of Health, Dr Susan Jack, for an update on how prepared the Southern Lakes and Central Otago districts are for the arrival of the Covid-19 virus.

"Southern DHB is supporting the Ministry of Health’s response to managing Covid-19. The Ministry has now asked that all incoming international flights around New Zealand are met by public health officials who can provide health information and assist anyone who is feeling unwell.

Dr Susan Jack - Medical Officer of Health - SDHB

Southern DHB now has a presence at Queenstown and Dunedin airports for every international flight and staff are clearly identifiable.  This presence began in Queenstown over the weekend.

These staff members are available to answer questions or concerns from passengers, or staff the staff of other border agencies. The Public Health staff can refer the passenger on for full screening, if required.  Any passengers identified by Customs officials as at-risk, or unwell, will also be referred to a Public Health staff member to carry out initial screening.

At this stage there is one staff member on duty at a time, which from the experience over the weekend is working well.

Planning is well advanced to ensure processes and systems are in place to support a public health response. This includes processes to test and isolate patients, and contact those who have been exposed to the illness. There are no confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Southern district, and we have tested a small number of people over several weeks, all of whom have tested negative.

A small number of Covid-19 tests have been carried out by the SDHB - but all have so far been negative.

SDHB and WellSouth are also in regular contact with General Practices and primary care around the Southern region, and are preparing to see suspected cases as needed.  

Lakes District Hospital, like all the public hospitals around the region, is participating in SDHB-wide preparations and planning around operations and business continuity for Covid-19."



Support Crux Support Crux