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Hospital staff have gone to great lengths coping with Omicron as it spreads in the region but the community has also been amazing, says Central Otago Health Services Ltd-Dunstan Hospital chief executive Kathy de Luc.

Dr de Luc said last week that the hospital had experienced a steady stream of patients with Covid-19 since the beginning of March, some presenting because of the virus while others came to hospital because of other conditions and had Covid also.

“If patients need more intensive care, as the agreement was, we would transfer them to Dunedin [Hospital] using St Johns, and that has worked extremely well.”

Nursing director – quality manager Tina Gilbertson said the hospital was in constant touch with Southern District Health Board and the Ministry of Health as the Covid organism and the guidance to deal with it changed.

“So you’re providing the best possible care for the patients . . . and how we manage the staff, and keeping everybody safe,” she said.

Dr de Luc said she thanked the community for understanding reduced visitor limits and the screening process reintroduced in August.

“We also hear the amazing stories of patients’ neighbours and friends really stepping up to look after patients out in the community.”

Southern Community Labs Also got a shout-out for providing quick turnarounds on PCR tests for staff and patients through a facility within the hospital, .

Ms Gilbertson said on any given day she was working with multiple staff on personal risk assessment, testing and advice, but staff shortages had not become critical.

A system set up with volunteers who had been trained for tasks they could help with had not been needed yet, and some staff had even covered shortages at other providers.

The hospital was also paying active attention to the mental health of staff, Dr de Luc said, and she acknowledged the lengths they were going to.

“We’re lucky in that we are a relatively small, tight-knit organisation and when the chips are down, people pull together and support each other.”