Change manager Sue Lawrence, project manager Grant Pownall and clinical support staff member Lisa Naeyaert with ‘Florence’. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Hi-tech help for hospital helping lighten the load

Sitting in a corridor at Wairau Hospital, Florence is dedicated to helping patients.

Since she started two months ago, the slim new addition has been widely praised for her help and assistance.

Popular with her clerical support colleagues in the hospital’s outpatient’s department, Florence the check-in kiosk has helped cut their workload.

Affectionately dubbed Florence by hospital staff, the new hi-tech kiosk has been brought in by hospital bosses as part of a three-month pilot.

Clinical support staff member Lisa Naeyaert using 'Florence' with project manager Grant Pownall. Photo: Paula Hulburt.
Clinical support staff member Lisa Naeyaert using ‘Florence’ with project manager Grant Pownall. Photo: Paula Hulburt.

Project manager Grant Pownell says patient-feedback prompted the move.

“Patients keep saying to us that they would like to interact with us in different ways like emails and patient portals like they might see at their GP

“This is something that we can do right now that might suit better,” he says.

Each patient attending an outpatient appointment is sent a confirmation letter which now includes a scannable barcode.

Florence then checks the patient details are correct before checking someone into the system.

Patients can also enter their National Health Index (NHI) number manually.

“There are security measures in place to make sure that people are who they say they are,” says Grant.

“It’s about seeing if we can keep the flow going by giving staff and patients more information about their journey,” he says.

Developed by Florence Health, the kiosk has been used by around 40 percent of patients.

“There’s always been a bit of rivalry between Nelson and Marlborough and Marlborough is leading the way in the Top of the South with uptake levels,” Grant says.

A receptionist is always available should help be needed.

Change manager Sue Lawrence says Florence is the “way forward.”

“Patients are giving it a go, they may not get it quite right first time but the more times they come in, the better they’ll get.

“The feedback we’re getting from charge nurse managers about what patients think which has driven the change.”

Around 100 people a day visit the outpatient department and for staff, a time-consuming part of their duties is checking people in.

Clerical support’s Lisa Naeyaert says Florence has helped free them-up for other work.

“Florence isn’t taking our jobs, she’s helping.”

Council have given their approval to subdivide land at Wairau Hospital. Photo: Supplied.

Hospital land sale set for public scrutiny

The sale of land at Wairau Hospital will come under public scrutiny as the health board seeks opinion from the community.

Public opinion on the sale of 6.3 hectares of land at Wairau Hospital is being sought.

The move comes after Marlborough District Council approved the proposed subdivision.

A spokeswoman from Nelson Marlborough Health (NMH) says the public submission process is a legislative requirement.

She says all submissions will be considered before the Board makes a final decision.

“NMH has been aware for some time that there is a surplus of land at Wairau hospital.

“When the Hospital was redeveloped in 2008-2010 the rebuild size confirmed the size requirement for the hospital,” she says.

The proposal would see the subdivision of existing residential units and an empty building at 46 Hospital Rd.

Eight new residential units could potentially be built on an empty block of land behind Marlborough Hospice.

But the final decision over how the land is used would be up to the buyer.

“The use of the land will ultimately be determined by a new owner. However, it will be zoned for residential use at the conclusion of the subdivision,” the spokeswoman says.

A Marlborough community housing group who provide supported living for seniors declared an interest in the site earlier this year.

Abbeyfield Marlborough is working with Abbeyfield NZ to develop to establish an Abbeyfield house for 12 residents in the Marlborough district.

It is currently looking to source a suitable site and fundraise.

Health bosses says the plan would leave them with around 7.7 hectares for any future hospital development.

A spokeswoman says money made from any sale would be retained by the board.

The closing date for submissions is 13 September 2019.

How to make a submission

Submissions must be dated, signed and include the following information:

  1. Your name, postal address, telephone and email address (if applicable)
  2. A statement confirming that the submission is made on the disposal of Wairau Hospital East Block
  3. Your view on the proposed sale of the property

A copy of the submission must be received by NMH by 5pm Friday 13 September 2019 at this address:

Wairau surplus land submission
Corporate office
Nelson Marlborough Health
Private Bag 18
Nelson 7040

Alternatively, the submission may be made to the following email address: [email protected]

Dr Nick Baker is appealing for people with existing or new medical issues to seek help if they need it. Photo: File

Flu shot crisis fixed

An urgent delivery of flu vaccine is set to arrive in the region to help boost dwindling supplies.

The Ministry of Health and PHARMAC have revealed an extra 55,000 doses of influenza vaccine are due to arrive in the country soon.

And a consignment of FluQuadri is expected to reach Marlborough next week.

The move comes in the wake of a nationwide shortage.

The flu hit residents in Nelson and Marlborough especially hard, says a spokeswoman from Nelson Marlborough District Health Board (NMDHB).

“Health professionals in Nelson and Marlborough report a greater number of people admitted to hospital with serious complications caused by influenza, including at least three children,” she says.

Eleven people were admitted to Wairau Hospital in Blenheim, including three children and one pregnant woman in May.

A spokeswoman says the increase in demand for the vaccination over the last four years shows how seriously the public took the risk of contracting the potentially deadly virus.

“The increasing demand reflects increasing community understanding of just how severe influenza can be and the importance of efforts to protect people and prevent it spreading”.

Figures from NMDHB show a steady rise in the uptake of vaccinations since 2014 when 39,200 people were vaccinated in Nelson and Marlborough.

By the end of flu season 2018, this had risen to 46,699.

The distribution of influenza vaccine in New Zealand has reached near-record levels, revealed the spokeswoman.

Around 1.3 million doses of influenza vaccine have been distributed already this winter.

“This number is close to last year’s all-time record of 1.326 million doses for the entire season and exceeds the number of doses distributed each year in 2016 and 2017,” she says.

Wairau hospital holds supplies of vaccines for vulnerable, eligible patients.

The additional vaccines mean that other New Zealanders will be able to purchase the vaccine once the new stocks arrive, says the spokeswoman.

Earlier this year, Pharmac and the Ministry of Health advised community-based doctors to limit the vaccination for those most at risk.

Nelson Marlborough Health Chief Medical Officer and paediatrician Dr Nick Baker says there was a push this year for ‘high needs’ patients to be vaccinated.

“Flu vaccination is especially important for anyone who has a health problem that means they are less able to cope with flu.

“Any condition that makes it harder to breathe and cough well makes influenza particularly severe.

“We hope to see both the local and national demand for flu vaccination increase again this year, as it did in 2018,” he says.

New ambulances for region

Story by Jonty Dine

A trio of new ambulances is set to start saving lives across the top-of-the-south.

The three vehicles were gifted to St John last week with one to be based at Blenheim, Richmond, and Motueka.

Territory manager Robbie Blankstein says ambulances no longer simply act as transport to the hospital.

“These are our offices – the days of working in a converted campervan are over.”

The highly equipped, lifesaving vehicles do not come cheap, however, with each ambulance costing $220,000. But the new additions were made possible thanks to donations from Pub Charity Limited in partnership with Northend Hotels.

Among the revolutionary features is an automated Powerload Stryker Stretcher, which will reduce staff injuries and fatigue.

“Our job is unplanned; we pick up multiple patients often multiple times per day,” Robbie says.

He says the new stretcher will mean 70 fewer lifts per day for ambulance officers.

“It is one of the many design benefits.”

The three emergency vehicles were blessed and dedicated at a ceremony in Nelson last Friday morning.

St John District operations manager for Tasman, James McMeekin, says the generous donations helps ensure local ambulance crews have the most up-to-date vehicles and lifesaving equipment to treat patients.

“No one knows when they will need an ambulance, but if, and when the time comes, you need to know you’ll get the right care at the right time.”

Pub Charity Limited chief executive Martin Cheer says for someone in distress, there can be no more comforting sound than a siren, off in the distance indicating help is at hand.

“Then come the men and women of St John – cool and calm under pressure responding with a confidence that allows a patient to focus on their own wellbeing.”

In the calendar year 2018, St John responded to 12,828 incidents in the Nelson Bays and Marlborough area, 33.3 percent of these were life threatening or time critical.

Hospital staff ward off flu

Busy hospital staff can now get flu shots on the wards while they work.

Infection control staff are offering flu vaccinations to nurses, doctors and clerical staff in all inpatient wards at Wairau Hospital.

The move means vital personal do not have to leave the wards at all.

Previously, vaccinated staff had to wait 20 minutes to be given the all clear to return to work.

A spokeswoman from Nelson Marlborough Health says staff can continue to work but a nurse will be on hand to ensure they are still safe.

“We have vaccinators on wards so that staff can ‘get done’ while they work and continue working while being observed for the mandatory 20-minute period – very convenient.”

The flu jab is offered to 3,000 NMDHB staff.

Last year a record 1.3 million New Zealanders were immunised against influenza, after the northern hemisphere experienced a particularly fatal flu season.

But health bosses are warning people not to be complacent with seven confirmed cases already confirmed at Nelson Hospital.

The peak season is typically around July and last year saw a last-minute surge of people booking vaccinations.

Nelson Marlborough Health chief medical officer and paediatrician Nick Baker there has been a steady rise in vaccination levels over the past five years across Marlborough.

“The increasing demand reflects increasing community understanding of just how severe influenza can be and the importance of efforts to protect people and prevent it spreading.

Flu vaccination is especially important for anyone who has a health problem that means they are less able to cope with flu. Any condition that makes it harder to breathe and cough well makes influenza particularly severe,” he says.

“We encourage every person who is eligible for free vaccination to get this done as soon as possible, from their GP or from some pharmacies.”

Vaccination is free for pregnant women, people aged 65 or older, children 4-years-old or under who have been hospitalised for respiratory illness or have a history of significant respiratory illness and those aged more than 65.

Nick says it is especially important to vaccinate children with any respiratory illnesses.

“While the common cold can be nasty for children especially infants, influenza is much worse.

“… it’s harder for them to breathe, cough or cope with high fevers and congested noses,” he says.

“Our overall message for parents is to consider whether there is anything about their child that means they are likely to cope less well with flu or suffer more complications.”