Dunedin Hospital battling Norovirus outbreak

Source: 1News

Three wards at Dunedin Hospital have been affected by a Norovirus outbreak that began a week ago, leading to some surgeries and procedures being cancelled.

Norovirus is the major cause of non-bacterial gastroenteritis, and can remain viable in the environment for up to 12 days.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. Vomiting is more common in young people, and diarrhoea in adults.

Southern District Health Board chief operating officer Hamish Brown said some patients and staff had already recovered, however, he now called on everyone to do their bit to help contain and stop infection from spreading.

The health board said that while one of the wards affected is likely to be reopened later on Wednesday, two of the wards, both on the seventh floor of the hospital, have now had confirmed cases of Norovirus.

This means that visitors to these wards will be permitted at the discretion of the charge nurse manager.

Brown said it was important that visitors who were unwell did not visit the hospital, and any patients with gastroenteritis symptoms presenting to the emergency department should declare this to staff immediately upon arrival.

“This will mean that they can be appropriately supported and cared for in a way to avoid the spread of gastroenteritis to other patients and visitors,” he said.

“While we are not turning patients away, we would ask people to consider whether it is appropriate for them to visit their GP in the first instance.

"Everyone entering the hospital, as a patient or visitor, are asked to observe hand hygiene practices including washing their hands and using the hand sanitiser located at stations throughout the complex.”

Some surgeries and procedures have been cancelled or delayed while the outbreak is ongoing.

Patients affected by any changes to their planned appointments have been contacted directly.

Brown said staff were working to minimise impact on critical care procedures, but some of these may need to be delayed or rescheduled.

“I am confident that our staff have this outbreak in hand, with excellent measures in place to reduce the spread and return to our usual operations.

“However, we need patients and visitors to help us reduce the risk of continued transmission and protect our staff and vulnerable patients.”