ORANGE

Hospital visiting guidelines updated 20 July 2022: Hospital visitors must wear a surgical/medical paper mask. Fabric face coverings are no longer acceptable. See our COVID-19 pages for detailed information about hospital visiting guidelines, COVID-19 tests and care in the community advice. See www.vaccinatecanterburywestcoast.nz for information about vaccinations.

We are at ORANGE according to the NZ COVID-19 Protection Framework

Last updated:
20 July 2022

Mask exemptions accepted for people seeking treatment
Any member of the public with a mask exemption is welcome in all our facilities when attending to receive health care and *treatment. Please show your mask exemption card and appointment letter to staff at the entrance.

*Treatment includes: coming into the Emergency Department, outpatient appointments,  surgery or a procedure.

For visitors to all facilities effective from Wednesday 20 July 2022

With the recent resurgence in cases in Canterbury, largely due to the Omicron BA.5 subvariant we are seeing an increase in demand right across the health system. Presentations to our Christchurch ED and Ashburton’s AAU are higher than ever and admission rates are high, which means we have a shortage of resourced beds.

Recently, we have seen too many unwell people coming to visit someone in hospital and too many that cannot or will not wear a medical mask. This increases the risk to vulnerable people in hospital. For these reasons we need to everything we can to minimise these risks.

We have therefore tightened visitor restrictions for all Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury hospitals and health facilities.

Kia whakahaumaru te whānau, me ngā iwi katoa – this is to keep everybody safe:

  • One visitor per patient in the hospital at any given time, except where stated otherwise in the ‘exceptions’ section below.
  • No visitors under 16 to any part of our facilities.
  • No visitors to COVID +ve patients other than in exceptional circumstances.
  • No eating or drinking at the bedside or anywhere other than cafes or areas designated for eating/drinking, as taking your mask off puts patients at risk.
  • Visitors or support people must not visit our facilities if they are unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms (even if they have tested negative) or have had a recent tummy bug.
  • Do not visit if you are COVID +ve or a household contact of someone who has tested positive
  • Surgical/medical masks must be worn at all times at all sites and will be provided if people don’t have them. Mask exemptions do not apply in our facilities – people who cannot tolerate a mask cannot visit at this time.
  • Hand sanitiser stations are visible and must be used.

By sticking to the rules above, you help keep our patients, staff, other visitors and yourself safe. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as our staff work hard to protect and care for some of the most vulnerable in our community.

Exceptions to the ‘one visitor’ policy

  • Exceptions can apply in some circumstances where trusted whānau members provide assistance, reassurance and other support for therapeutic care or on compassionate grounds – please talk to the ward’s Charge Nurse to discuss this before you come to hospital to visit. For whānau with an essential support role as a Partner in Care – again, please check with the ward’s Charge Nurse before you come to hospital to visit.
  • People attending Christchurch ED or Ashburton AAU can have one support person with them.
  • Women in labour and in the birthing suite can have two named support people + their community LMC/midwife if they have one – for the duration of the birth only. All other women on the Maternity Ward are allowed one support person for the duration of their stay in our facilities at Christchurch Women’s Hospital and other maternity units. Only one support person can be with each woman in the maternity ward, and one support person for maternity clinic appointments. No under 16s are allowed to visit or attend appointments.
  • Parents/caregivers can be with their baby in NICU.
  • Parents/caregivers are able to be with their child in hospital (Except Children’s Haematology and Oncology Day patients where only one parent or caregiver is permitted).
  • People requiring support when attending an appointment can have one support person. Please let the relevant service know if you need this so they are able to accommodate your request.

Visiting patients with COVID-19

  • To avoid them becoming infected with COVID-19 and passing it one, visitors to COVID-19 positive patients will not be allowed except in extenuating circumstances – by prior agreement with the Charge Nurse Manager only, and wearing an N95 mask.
  • Other methods of communication will be facilitated e.g. phone, facetime, zoom etc.

You must NOT visit the hospital if you

  • are a household contact of a COVID-19 positive case
  • are COVID-19 positive
  • Have a cold or flu/COVID-19-like symptoms (even if you are testing negative for COVID-19)

Exceptions for people with disabilities

An exception will be made for people with disabilities who are in hospital or have to attend an outpatient appointment – where they need a support person to access health services. For example, a sign language interpreter, support person for someone with a learning disability, or someone to assist with mobility. The support person is in addition to the one permitted visitor.

Everyone visiting our facilities must wear a mask, no exceptions

While we appreciate that some people have legitimate reasons for being exempt from wearing a mask and may even have an official card to confirm this, people who cannot or will not wear a mask cannot visit someone in hospital or attend hospital, other than to access healthcare treatment*. This is another measure to minimise the risk to vulnerable patients.

*healthcare treatment includes: Emergency Department care, outpatient appointments, surgery or a procedure. 

Patients and visitors should also read the additional more detailed visiting guidelines for each specific hospital.

More COVID-19 information

Smoky smells no threat to health

Friday 17 February 2017Media release3 minutes to read

Port Hills residents affected by this week's wild fires are being reassured the smell of smoke in their properties presents no serious threat to health.

Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey says while many people returning to their houses will notice a strong smoky smell lingering, it does not present any long term harm to people's health.

“While those returning to their homes may find the smell distressing, it presents no immediate harm to health.”

Dr Humphrey says health effects from smoke usually present at the time of exposure.

“Most people are very unlikely to have any long-term health effects from short term exposure to smoke but people with pre-existing respiratory (lung) illness or heart disease may experience and exacerbation (recurrence) of their condition.”

Christchurch Hospital had two people present to the Emergency Department for breathing problems exacerbated from smoke during the fires.

“The advice to people experiencing any health issues following the tragic events of the Port Hills fires this week, is to phone their own GP team for #carearoundtheclock​ 24/7,” Dr Humphrey says.

“After hours, and when they're closed, a team or nurses is ready to take your call.” 

Dr Humphrey acknowledged Canterbury has been hit hard with its fair share of disasters in the last half decade, so many people will understandably be feeling overwhelmed and in shock.

“We all need to remember to look out for one another and take care of each other.

All Right? manager Sue Turner agrees.

“We know that going through a disaster takes a toll on all of us and coping isn't always easy,” she says.

“During scary events like earthquakes or fires, our brains react chemically – releasing adrenaline. This response is our natural alarm system – our body telling us to be alert and ready for action. It's there to help us, but afterwards we can feel shaky, queasy or on-edge, and it can make it hard for us to concentrate. It can also result in strong emotional responses such as anger or crying.”

Sue says this is normal and can be eased with doing some light physical activity, taking up a small chore or task and by focusing on some calm breathing for 10 seconds.

“Returning home after an evacuation can be a difficult and emotional experience. It is normal for people to have conflicting emotions as a result of returning home.

“Experience and research tell us that the impacts of disasters go on for a long time. You need to pace yourself. Go slow and steady, and look after yourself and your relationships. 

“Recovering from disaster can be a stressful, overwhelming time. By taking care of yourself and your loved ones, remembering that this will take a long time, celebrating the small wins, and asking for help when you think you need it you'll give yourself a good chance of a good recovery.”

Sue says recovery takes a long time, but with strong, positive support from friends and family, most people recover well.

Find out more earthquake support on the All Right? website.

ENDS

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Page last updated: 3 October 2018

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