Wear a mask to keep hospital patients safe
24 July 2022
Please keep wearing a mask when you’re visiting hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
That’s the message from Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty as respiratory diseases continue to place pressure on health resources.
The message comes as declining rates of COVID-19 seem to be creating complacency in our community, with many people failing to wear masks in public settings such as shops and supermarkets, as well as our district’s hospitals.
Chief Operating Officer Bronwyn Anstis says some people are wearing a mask to the hospital entrance, then taking it off after entering.
This risks infecting staff and patients with the flu or COVID-19.
“There are still a lot of respiratory diseases in our community, and some people are carrying the flu or COVID-19 without showing any symptoms,” says Bronwyn.
“Therefore, it’s still really important for people to keep wearing masks in public settings – especially in hospitals and other health care facilities where there are a lot of vulnerable staff and patients.”
Tauranga Hospital and Whakatāne Hospital are both asking visitors to:
- wear a properly fitted mask – and keep it on at all times while in the hospital
- wash/sanitise their hands regularly
- keep their distance from other people as much as possible.
People who are sick with an infection that can be transmitted to others are also being asked to avoid visiting friends and whānau in hospital.
“Our highest priority is ensuring the safety of our patients and staff,” says Bronwyn.
“Please be kind to our staff if they ask you to wear a mask – they’re doing their best to keep everyone safe.”
Respiratory diseases like COVID-19, the flu and RSV can place a lot of pressure on hospitals – partly because large numbers of patients need care, and partly because staff catch the diseases and cannot work.
Some hospital departments have had more than 10% of their staff on sick leave while caring for large numbers of patients.
These situations have to be managed through measures such as redeploying staff and deferring planned care surgeries.
Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty is prioritising resources to ensure that health care is available to those people who need it most.
The Ministry of Health has published guidelines to help people stay well during the cooler months.