The Taranaki District Health Council has put in place a Covid “surge” plan that would allow it to care for nine ventilated intensive care patients and up to 60 hospitalized patients.
The province is on the brink of a positive sewage test in Stratford last week.
So far, more than 1,000 swabs have been collected, 600 of which have come back negative, and the region is still awaiting the results of the wastewater monitoring tests.
TDHB’s director of operations, Gillian Campbell, told RNZ she was confident she could cope if a community outbreak was confirmed.
She said the public health unit carried out specific modeling in Taranaki during the first 100 days of an outbreak in the region, prompting optimism.
“This shows that our maximum number of admissions will be seven with two in intensive care, which we are more than able to handle.”
Daily infections in the model, which looked at the Auckland and Waikato experiences, peak at 32 around day 70, the first person admitted to hospital on day 20, and the first intensive care patient on day 55.
The model assumes that over the 100-day period, double vaccination rates will increase from 60 percent to 90 percent of the eligible population.
DHB’s most recent update on vaccination rates Thursday said 68% of the eligible population had received a double shot while 85% had received a dose. For the Maori, these figures were 48% and 69%, respectively.
Campbell said DHB has a plan if the number of infections exceeds that of the model.
“And that would allow us to have six ventilated patients – therefore, real intensive care patients – at any one time, then move into a divided red and green intensive care unit and use another area in our theater room. and being able to actually manage nine ventilated patients. “
Campbell said the space for Covid patients in the wards could also be expanded.
“If the push reaches the upper end of the forecast, our two medical services can be turned into fully negative pressure Covid services, so they have 60 beds. “
Current modeling pales in comparison to what was envisioned in 2020.
“We had planned that we would be at full capacity [nine ventilated patients] when you saw what was going on internationally, that’s all we had to do. We knew we would be under pressure to handle the incoming numbers if there had been a full community epidemic. “
Campbell said healthcare professionals now know much more about Covid-19 than in 2020 in terms of virus management and treatment options, meaning the impact of a community outbreak would not be so extreme now.
In 2020, the DHB had planned to store the bodies off-site in refrigerated sea containers, but their use was no longer expected – although they were still on call.
“We have a mortuary on site here, so we can take care of the bodies here, and last year we worked with the funeral directors on how we would transfer patients, and there’s an escalation plan around the storage of bodies if we get to this point.
“However, what seems likely at the moment is that these plans will not need to be put in place… it is obviously storage in refrigerated containers, but certainly not on site at the hospital. “
Campbell said an epidemic of the modeled size could have a serious impact on staffing.
“You know, you have a small epidemic and the staff are fired, there isn’t a huge capacity to build on and the reality is that by the time Taranaki has community cases, we don’t. will probably have more people to lean on, probably from all over the world.
“So we have to figure out how we react as the health sector as a whole – not just the hospital and not just residential care for the elderly. We’re going to have to make sure that we are able to provide it to everyone. , although we have isolated the staff. “
Nonetheless, Campbell was confident given the modeling the DHB would face.
“If I just look at the hospital and the planning and have an optimistic view, it’s way below our ability and our ability to manage, so I think if we had an optimistic view that told us that we were going to have six intensive care patients all the time so there would be real concern.
“This is the first piece of modeling that is really localized, including what we know now, and it reassures our capacity somewhat because even if we do double that, we do have the capacity and the capacity to manage.”