Record numbers present at Whakatāne Hospital ED – call goes out to consider alternative options where available
06 January 2022
A single day record for Emergency Department presentations has been recorded at Whakatāne Hospital this week. It has prompted calls for people to consider whether they have alternative options before coming to ED to help under pressure healthcare staff.
The 136 people who presented to ED on Monday (3 January) is a daily record, but numbers have been extremely high over recent days in any case. This is in part due to the large holiday visitor influx says Bay of Plenty District Health Board (BOPDHB) Chief Medical Officer Dr Luke Bradford.
“Our population increases over the holiday season, as does the demand on local health services, and you can help yourself and others with a little planning and forethought,” says Dr Bradford. “Preparation and using your options wisely are the keys to good health and helping out your healthcare services over the holiday season.”
Whakatāne ED daily presentations usually average around 75 at this time of year. However, since Christmas Day they have averaged approximately 100.
“It’s a really good idea to prepare yourself. Make sure you have enough of your repeat medicines because it clogs up the Emergency Department (ED) to go in if you run out of them. We need to keep ED for emergencies.
“If you are heading out of town camping or on holiday, packing some of the basics such as plasters, antiseptic cream and some basic paracetamol gives you something to use to either avoid medical assistance, or help while you seek medical support,” says Dr Bradford.
If you do need medical assistance over the holiday period, choosing where to access it can save you time and money.
“It’s about options,” says Dr Bradford. “If you’re injured; with a sprained ankle, sore back or sore neck, for example, then a physiotherapist is often a better first option rather than a GP. A physio has specialised knowledge in these areas and can start treatment leading to a faster recovery. Also many community physiotherapists will offer a free first consultation for ACC issues.
“Likewise, a pharmacist is often a good first port of call for minor illnesses,” added Dr Bradford. “For sore eyes, scrapes and scratches, a pharmacist is a great option. And many pharmacies have longer opening hours over the holiday period.”
Residents of the Eastern Bay of Plenty are encouraged to contact their GP, Hauora or Healthline in the first instance over the holiday period. GP practices can be called day or night. A nurse triage service answering after-hours calls is in place for all Eastern Bay of Plenty medical centres and Hauora. Healthline is also available 24-hours a day on 0800 611 116 and can assess and advise if you need to be tested.
“Calling your doctor and getting transferred to the nurse can help you confirm if you need to go into ED or reassure you that you can wait until your regular GP is available. If you are holidaying in the Eastern Bay consider calling your own GP as they may offer advice or even a virtual consult. Alternatively, if the matter is not urgent please arrange to see your GP when you get home,” adds Dr Bradford.
“However, whether you are a resident or a visitor, if you have symptoms such as coughs, colds or a sore throat then you should be getting a COVID-19 swab,” says Dr Bradford.
A list of testing centres can be found at Healthpoint at: https://www.healthpoint.co.nz/covid-19/bay-of-plenty/