This page features news, information and resources relating to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak in the Nelson Marlborough region.

NMH COVID-19 news

 

Important information

Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) established an Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) in late January 2020 to prepare for a COVID-19 outbreak.

The ECC comprises members from health, councils, iwi-led agencies, emergency management groups, NZ Police and other regional partners. The multi-agency ECC shares a common purpose – to protect the health and wellbeing of the Nelson Marlborough population, without increasing health inequities.

In addition to the ECC, there are three NMH emergency operations centres and three technical advisory groups in place. All groups are working together to prepare regional hospitals, health centres, GP clinics and community healthcare providers for more confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Like all district health boards, NMH is following the lead of the National Health Coordination Centre and all-of-Government response.

NMH hospital beds and equipment

There are 244 beds available across both hospitals. There is capacity, as planned for in hospital pandemic planning, to reconfigure bed use and wards as required.

     BED OR EQUIPMENT TYPE          NELSON HOSPITAL                WAIRAU HOSPITAL           
Ventilators 15 10
Negative pressure rooms 4 4
Intensive care unit (ICU) beds 7 4

Community-based assessment centres (CBAC) are open in Blenheim, Nelson, Motueka and Takaka.

 

Locations and operating hours

Tahunanui, Nelson
The former Suburban Club building, 168 Tahunanui Drive
9am until 6pm, 7 days a week
Phone 0800 3584636
Download the Tahunanui CBAC information sheet.

Toi Toi (Victory), Nelson
Harvey Norman carpark, 69 St Vincent Street
10am until 1pm, 7 days a week
Phone 0800 3584636
Download the Toi Toi CBAC information sheet.

Please note: The Toi Toi centre is a screening centre only. If you need assessment or testing this will happen at the Tahunanui centre. Please see the section on this webpage "What happens at a CBAC?" for more information.

Motueka
Bridge club room, 32 Tudor Street
8.30am until 5.30pm, 7 days a week
Phone 0800 3584636
Download the Motueka CBAC information sheet.

Blenheim
At the old netball courts off Horton Park, 29b Redwood Street
9am until 5pm, 7 days a week
Phone 0800 3584636
Download the Blenheim CBAC information sheet.

Takaka
Outside the Golden Bay Community Health Centre, 10 Central Takaka Rd
The hours may change: Call 03 525 0060
Please phone first for confirmation that you should go to the centre.

 

What are my options if I live in Picton or Murchison?

Safe assessment sites have been set up in Picton and Murchison.

At the Picton medical centre a cabin has been set up outside of the building to allow the safe assessment of people with COVID-19 symptoms, away from other patients in waiting rooms.

At Murchison hospital and health centre, a negative pressure room is being used for safe assessment.

 

What if I need assessment outside of the CBAC working hours?

People seeking assessment outside of these hours are asked to stay at home – away from school and work and other populated places. They should call Healthline or their GP for advice.

In urgent situations, they can attend an urgent care centre in Nelson or Blenheim. In emergencies only, they can phone 111 or attend a hospital emergency department (ED). Any person visiting an urgent care centre or ED with COVID-19 symptoms is asked to wait at the front door and signal for attention. They should also distance themselves – by at least two metres – from other people around them.

You should contact a community-based assessment centre (CBAC) if you develop any COVID-19 symptoms and you:

  • Live in a communal environment, such as an apartment block or hostel or;
  • Live in the same house with a large, extended family or;
  • Are an essential worker who has been in contact with a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19 or;
  • Are a healthcare worker or;
  • Have returned from overseas, or domestic (NZ) travel, in the past 14 days or;
  • Have been in contact with someone who has returned from overseas, or domestic travel, in the past 14 days.

The contact details for CBACs are listed on this webpage under 'Where can I find a community-based assessment centre?'

If you have symptoms, but don’t fit one of the categories listed above please call Healthline as a starting point: 0800 358 5453

If you are immunocompromised (eg an oncology or diabetes patient) please go to a hospital emergency department instead of a CBAC for assistance.

People who go to a community-based assessment centre will be seen free of charge.

You may be met by clinicians wearing protective masks and other personal protective equipment. They will ask you 'screening questions' to determine if you need to be assessed (examined by a doctor). Screening also happens on the phone when you call a CBAC, GP or Healthline on the phone.

Once screened, you may be assessed (examined by a doctor) inside a CBAC building. After the assessment, the doctor may then decide to test you. Not everyone is tested however. The decision to test is made by the doctor who will:

  • apply the national case definition criteria
  • apply their own clinical judgement, based on their assessment of you
  • consider your particular situation – the information you provide for the screening questions

If you are tested, a swab (sample) will be taken from your nose and sent to a laboratory for testing. If you are tested, it is very important that you stay in careful isolation at home and follow the physical distancing rules.

You will be called on the phone with the test results, usually within 48 hours.

Points of difference for the Toi Toi (Victory) and Takaka centres: 

  • At the Toi Toi centre you will be screened. If you then need assessment (by a GP) or testing, this will be done at the Tahunanui CBAC and transport is available if required.
  • For the Takaka centre, please phone the Golden Bay Community Health Centre first for confirmation that you should be assessed.

The symptoms for COVID-19 are:

  • fever (a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or higher)
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath (difficulty breathing)
  • a runny or dripping nose
  • a loss of sense of smell

The Nelson Marlborough Public Health Service (NMPHS) undertakes contact tracing for confirmed cases, and their close contacts (eg families, flatmates who live in the same house) in our region.

Other contact tracing (eg for people on flights), is undertaken by the specialised national close contact tracing service.

Our message for the community is that the NMPHS, and the national close contact tracing service, undertake expert contact tracing to reach close contacts – the people most at risk – as they determine necessary. Close contacts will be contacted directly.

Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) will not disclose personal information about a confirmed case’s movements if it is not useful to the contact tracing process or when that contact’s movements have not placed the public at risk.

NMH will take a proactive approach and alert the public (eg via media release and social media) about a location, or event, when this is determined necessary. A public alert would be issued when it has been determined that members of the public at a certain location or event may be possible casual contacts, and would be unable to be identified and contacted through the contact tracing process.

The process

  1. Any positive COVID-19 case is statutorily reported to a Medical Officer of Health in the NMPHS
  2. Every case is then interviewed by a NMPHS employee to determine risk factors, including travel
  3. Contact tracing commences 
  4. Every case is monitored by the NMPHS until a Medical Officer of Health has determined that it is safe for the person to come out of isolation

For definitions of close and causal contacts, and more information about contact tracing, go to the Ministry of Health's website.

To protect our staff and the patients receiving care with us, and in line with national guidelines, Nelson Marlborough Health adopted a temporary no-visitors policy for Nelson and Wairau hospitals, from 28 March 2020.

There are a few exceptions where one visitor only may be granted access. These exceptions are where a visitor is:

  • supporting an end of life patient
  • supporting a child (one parent or legal guardian)
  • the breastfeeding mother of an inpatient
  • supporting a birthing mother (one support person or partner)

Approval for visitation should be requested from the charge nurse manager of the department the patient is in, prior to visiting.

Visitors will also be asked 'screening' questions about:

  • their recent travel history
  • contact with travellers
  • contact with people who have (or who may have) COVID-19 
  • their health (any symptoms)

Thank you for your co-operation with this important process.

In line with national COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions and hospital emergency planning requirements, NMH is reprioritising its healthcare services.

All non-urgent elective services and procedures, and outpatient appointments, will be postponed and all affected patients will be contacted.

Lexie O’Shea, Incident Controller for the NMH Hospital Emergency Operations Centre, assures people that appropriate capacity for acute and emergency patients remains.

“Acute or urgent healthcare will be available. However, planned care, that is non-urgent surgery and procedures, will be affected,” Mrs O’Shea says.

“I appreciate that this may be frustrating news for many people, but we are operating in unprecedented times and the situation requires us to respond accordingly.”
If people require healthcare advice:

  1. contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or their general practice
  2. dial 111 for emergencies

The safety of our staff is Nelson Marlborough Health's highest priorities.

The restriction of visitors to our hospitals will help protect our staff from being exposed to COVID-19. The postponement of non-urgent elective procedures (planned care) will allow our staff to prioritise their planning and preparation for more cases of COVID-19. 

Staff are being trained on how to manage patients with COVID-19, and simulations or ‘dummy’ practice runs are being undertaken. In many cases the protocols and health pathways are similar to those already tested and proven for other infectious respiratory diseases. 

We will ensure that we have the personal protective equipment (PPE) required for staff and that they are aware of the correct procedures in dealing with COVID-19.

Questions about test and PPE supplies

Queries about national or regional test and PPE supplies should be directed to the Ministry of Health: [email protected]

Numbers of people in self-isolation

NMH does not have access to information about the numbers of people in voluntary self-isolation. This information is held as a central register by Healthline and the Ministry of Health.

How to raise concerns about non-compliance with Level 4 lock-down rules

First, have a polite conversation with the person and remind them of the isolation and physical distancing rules. Kindness counts – people may not be clear on the rules so do your best to explain it to them in a respectful way.

If this is not successful or you are not confident having this kind of conversation, you could log a report with the NZ Police.

The online form to do this is here [NZ Police website]

Resources to share

Further information about COVID-19 can be found on the following sites:

Information sheets:

Posters:

Community-based assessment centre (CBAC) handouts:

Booklet:

If you have a social media account, please follow and share:

There is a range of graphics and resources to share online: 

Links

The COVID-19 website has published a range of information in the following languages:

Posters & factsheets

High Five for Clean Hands (Source: Health Promotion Agency / Ministry of Health)

Coronavirus - Help Stop the Spread / Feeling unwell? Stay home and use the phone (Source: Nelson Marlborough Health).

Available in: