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.”

Killer cat?

It bounded out in front of their car – a black panther-like cat moving at speed.

Stunned Marlborough woman Juliearna Kavanagh from Picton has revealed how the huge animal leapt across the road, just a few feet in front of her car just before Ward.

The well-known business owner is warning people in the area to be careful in case the massive creature attacks.

She has already contacted police and Ministry of Primary Industries.

“It was in full flight; it was big and sleek and with a cat’s head and a huge tail,” she says.

Along with partner Warren Lewis, Juliearna was travelling on SH1 about 11.30pm, returning from Invercargill on Friday.

The pair were left bewildered by the strange encounter, says Juliearna who owns and operate Marlborough’s Hop on Hop off wine tour company and one in Queenstown.

A huge black cat leapt in front of Juliearna Kavanagh’s car. Photo: Supplied.

“We both looked at each other, thinking what the heck had just happened?

“We pulled off the road, slightly hysterical and went through every animal that it could possibly be, but nothing made sense.

“It was shocking,” Juliarna says.

There have been numerous reports of large cats in New Zealand’s South Island, with some dating back to the early 1900’s.

A pregnant puma was documented as having escaped from a circus in Lyttleton harbor and the possibility of using cougars was discussed as a way of controlling the thriving deer population in the Canterbury foothills.

But officials have always deemed the sightings to be of a feral cat.

Juliearna says she had slowed down to go around a bend when the cat leapt across the road.

“It was just there, right in front of our headlights, right out of the blue. It was so quick; it was either chasing something or had heard our car.”

The Escape to Picton owner says she has no doubt that what she saw was a Puma.

“I couldn’t live with myself if I’d kept quiet and then it attacked a small child or livestock.

“A big cat isn’t the first thing that we naturally thought of, after all we don’t live in a country where you expect to see them. But that’s what it was,” she says.

“I don’t scare easily, I’ve seen some shit, but it was big, quick and black and I was struck by how big it’s tail was.

“If that was a feral cat, it’s a feral cat on steroids. Curiosity killed the cat but it’s not the cat I’m worried about.”

A spokeswoman from Ministry of Primary Industries says MPI has received one recent call from a member of the public in relation to a sighting of what they believed was a ‘large cat’.

We have previously received calls over the years about similar sightings. MPI has investigated many photographs, footprints and hair, scat and faeces samples, and in each of those previous cases, we have concluded the sighting to be that of a large feral cat.”

Victim hits out at assault

Trapped on his mobility scooter, pensioner Doug Woolf watched in horror as the Ute raced towards him.

As his scooter crashed to the ground, the 67-year-old Blenheim man says he thought he was going to die.

He has now hit out at the court system after the man who attacked him escaped jail.

The frail pensioner has been left bewildered and angry by the court’s decision.

“What’s to put him off doing this to someone else? It’s hardly much of a deterrent.

“I would like to have seen him charged with attempted murder as it was a deliberate act and I could have died.

“I wasn’t able to defend myself properly but if it had been someone in their 90s, I believe he would have killed them,” Doug says.

The man was sentenced to nine months suspended sentence and community service last week in Taupo District Court.

He was also ordered to pay reparation in $25-dollar instalments.

He says he had been heading home when he was punched several times around the head by the offender.

“He tried to pull me off my scooter. I could have looked after myself a few years ago but not now.

“I drove up the road and dialled 111 and while I was talking, I heard the car coming and then it hit.

“There was glass all over the road, my hearing aids fell out and my stuff was everywhere.

“People came running over to help and stayed with me until the police and ambulance arrived.

“I find it almost impossible to believe that this happened in Blenheim. I keep seeing the Ute driving straight for me and am quite traumatised by it all,” he says.

The man had been visiting relatives in Blenheim for a 21st birthday party and he had been drinking.

Doug says he has been left in a great deal of pain and is still shaken by what happened.

“I haven’t been in great health anyway, but this has made it much worse.

“I’m very wary of going out on my scooter now. I thought he would get jail time, that’s what the police told me.

“It’s gutting.”