Craig Timmings and Bobi Comrie

As Covid numbers track downwards in Hawke’s Bay, there is much to celebrate about our health services’ response.

The team work has been “amazing”, says Phillipa Blakey, Chief Executive of Health Hawke’s Bay, referring to the region’s Covid response.

Tihei Mauri Ora, a collaboration primarily between Ngāti Kahungunu, the DHB and Health Hawke’s Bay, has significantly eased pressure on Hawke’s Bay’s critical health services and has supported whānau to manage safely at home.

 “There have been food and care package deliveries from Taiwhenua hubs, medication drop-offs from pharmacies, a DHB nurse-led outreach that does home visits, and the redeployment of many PHO and DHB staff to help plug the gaps,” says Phillipa. 

Multiple staff across the DHB are being redeployed daily into areas of highest need. This includes both non-clinical and clinical functions. The redeployments provide support to other areas of the DHB (such as the Emergency Department or wards), aged residential services and to primary healthcare (PHO). 

One good example of re-deployment is two senior DHB Hawke’s Bay security officers who have stepped out of their usual role to become transport drivers. Bobi Comrie and Craig Timmings are driving a white transporter van providing a key service for high risk COVID-positive residents.

“We had the capacity to redeploy, and it’s great to be able to provide a service during these incredibly busy times that is making a meaningful difference,” says Ms Comrie.

Each day Health Hawke’s Bay updates a risk-stratified list for each GP practice’s Covid patients. The list tells practices which of their patients have tested positive, and of those, which are most likely to need clinical care. 

GPs and practice nurses call their COVID-positive patients, using the list to prioritise those at highest risk from COVID. If their assessment identifies that a patient needs additional monitoring because of respiratory symptoms, they request a pulse oximeter from Health Hawke’s Bay. The DHB’s transport team will then deliver it to the patient’s home.

The transport team does a pickup from Health Hawke’s Bay twice daily and sometimes delivers to 30 households per day. They go as far as Kereru, Eskdale and Waimārama. They also take COVID-positive patients to hospital for essential health services such as dialysis, self-isolation quarantine or home once discharged from hospital. 

 “The DHB transport service is about keeping everyone safe, including people isolating at home, general practice staff, and patients visiting the practices, “says Phillipa Blakely. 

“It’s also keeping people out of hospital.”.

The transport team wear full personal protective equipment and the van is thoroughly cleaned in-between each drop-off. 

Mr Timmings says residents are grateful for the support. “It’s comforting for them, knowing that they are protected by the DHB – that we actually care.”

Priya Madhyodi, 42, a Dental Assistant for the DHB’s community oral health department was also redeployed from her full-time role at Mahora Community Dental Clinic to Havelock North’s aged residential care facility Mary Doyle for two weeks.

“My redeployment involved all sorts of jobs including spending time with live-in patients, giving out teas and helping with the meals,” says Priya.

Previously a registered nurse in India, Priya moved to New Zealand 15 years ago, where she has worked in various aged care facilities including Eversley and Colwyn House Lifecare. 

“Mary Doyle was under huge pressure due to the need to provide additional care for its live-in patients with COVID, alongside reduced staffing levels due to staff isolating with COVID,” Priya says. “They were very short of staff and needed help, and I had the experience and could use it to help the community. They loved having me around and I loved doing it.” 

Priya Madhyodi far right stands with the Mary Doyle team gathered for an afternoon tea to celebrate their hard work during COVID

Having completed her redeployment at Mary Doyle, Priya has this week been helping out with COVID testing at Hawke’s Bay Fallen Soldiers Memorial Hospital.

“We are testing patients who are vulnerable, such as people who are undergoing blood or iron transfusions, people undergoing surgery and elderly patients, to ensure they don’t have COVID. 

“I do a Rapid Antigen Test on myself every morning, because I want to ensure those patients are safe.”

Photos supplied


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1 Comment

  1. I would just like to make people aware of the St Johns Health shuttle service available in Hawkes Bay. This is a service to take people to health appointments and return them home. It’s a contribution based system depending on the the person’s ability to pay. Just call 0800 424 778 at least 24 hours before your appointment to book. We cover all the bay from Wairoa to Waipukarau.

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