Eastern Courier : October 8th 2014
YOUR PLACE, YOUR PAPER Wednesday, October 8, 2014 Hospital ready for Ebola cases By JARRED WILLIAMSON MIDDLEMORE Hospital is gearing up to look after patients infected with the deadly Ebola virus if it arrives in the country. Health officials say it is highly unlikely the virus will make it to New Zealand. But Counties Manukau Health has set up a special bio-containment unit to isolate any cases that arrive in the country. The Auckland Regional Public Health Service’s ill travellers protocol says Middlemore is obligated to take any sick patients who arrive at Auckland Airport because it is the closest hospital. Middlemore Central gen- eral manager Dot McKeen says the space was set up after a ward relocated earlier in the year. The Eastern Courier was given a look inside the unit which contains two negative pressure rooms. Those rooms restrict contaminated air from circulating into the hospital. McKeen says while Ebola is not an airborne virus, the negative pressure adds an extra level of protection. ‘‘The unit can also work for other infectious diseases as well as Ebola,’’ she says. ‘‘Ebola is something we haven’t dealt with before . . . it’s best to have any cases totally separate from another ward. ‘‘It took very little to set up, apart from installing some bathrooms. The main task has really been to order the right equipment for staff to use.’’ That protective equipment includes gowns, visors, protective suits and boots. ‘‘You’re not going to leave it to chance . . . if you’re sending your staff in there you give them the best of equipment.’’ She says Counties Manu- kau Health is taking the lead on planning. ‘‘We think we’re as ready as anyone would be,’’ she says. ‘‘The team has been very proactive in getting the latest information on best care practice.’’ A team of managers and infectious disease clinicians has been meeting for the last six or seven weeks to iron out plans. McKeen says one of the challenges has been waste Infection control: MiddlemoreCentral generalmanager Dot McKeen,centre,meets with infectious disease cliniciansaspart of the planningprocess. Wethink we’reas ready as anyone would be. The teamhas been very proactive in getting the latest information on best carepractice ❝ Dot McKeen Middlemore Central Containment unit: Lookinginside one of the two negative pressure rooms where a patientcan be isolated. risk of the Ebola virus arriving in New Zealand. But he says the facilities and protocols in place in New Zealand are suitable for treating confirmed or suspected cases of the disease. ‘‘If there was a suspected case of Ebola, the person would be promptly treated in hospital isolation,’’ Mackie says. Associate Health Minister Hazardous waste: The roomwhere health staff would put on and remove protective gear before disposingofitin yellow bins. disposal. Staff members would be required to dress in protective gear, she says. Used items would be cut up, sterilised and burned. Ministry of Health chief medical officer Dr Don Mackie says there is a low Jo Goodhew says border screenings have been taking place since August. ❚ Forty-seven people had been screened at the border and none had symptomsof the virus. Write way: Allen Chan froma neighbouring business sits to play with the interactive parts of the sculpture. Photos: JARRED WILLIAMSON Great look: An oldman’s face loomsatthe frontofthe sculpturein Golflands. Sculptor creates giantworkofart The Grandfather is finally finished. Sculptor MarkJones has fulfilled his wish of transforminga humble tree stumpinto a workof art. The Howick resident used many tools to complete the sculpture after fortifying the stump with concrete because of a substantial amountof rot inside. Find out more about his challenging year-long journey to complete the fairy tale-themed project on p5.
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