Middlemore Hospital staff confident it will cope with Omicron

Nicole Bremner
Source: 1News

Middlemore Hospital’s chief medical officer is urging New Zealanders to follow the public health rules with the threat of the Omicron variant looming.

Dr Pete Watson says a surge in Omicron cases is expected in about four to six weeks and hospital staff are hoping the outbreak will settle down in a reasonably short period after that.

1News was taken on an exclusive tour of Middlemore’s ICU Department which has treated the largest number of cases in New Zealand so far.

The pandemic has seen one multi-bed ward converted to a number of individual negative pressure rooms.

The air flow to each room is monitored, full PPE is worn by all staff on the ward and specially installed videophones are used to share patient information, meaning fewer staff generally need to enter rooms.

In a statement late on Monday, Watson appealed to Aucklanders to ensure their vaccinations are up-to-date, wear masks and stay home if they become unwell.

He says he expects there to be pressure on the health system once Omicron, typically a mild upper respiratory infection, is in the community.

“What we know from our colleagues overseas is that once Omicron is in the community it will spread rapidly. People who come to hospital with just cold like symptoms and no other serious injury or illness will be sent home to isolate and monitor their symptoms.”

The team at Middlemore are well advanced on their planning to ensure health services continue with resources available.

Senior staff are also reassuring Aucklanders that those needing urgent treatment for other medical conditions – from having a heart attack to giving birth – will be treated and cared for.

“We have plans to manage Covid bed capacity and patient pathways, and we’ll continue to work across the region to manage hospital admissions, vaccination roll outs and the administering of booster shots.”

New Zealanders are also being asked to prepare a plan in case they get Omicron and need to self isolate at home for 14 days.

Stocking up on pain relief, food and supplies, or ensuring someone will shop for you, should be an essential of your household plan.