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Extra Hospital Beds To Help With Heavy Winter Load

11 JUNE 2004

Extra Hospital Beds To Help With Heavy Winter Load

Charge Nurse Linda Moses started work at North Shore Hospital more than 22 years ago. Today she is overseeing the opening of the hospital’s first ever Winter Ward.

Ms Moses, who grew up on the Shore, says she is excited about the prospect of opening the ward on June 14.

“It will be a medical ward, to meet pressure for Hospital admissions during winter. We’ll also have overflow from other wards.”

Mrs Moses says staff at North Shore are sourcing solutions to bed management difficulties and she warns that some patients may have to get used to the idea of sharing a room with someone of the opposite sex.

“Although it’s common practice at other hospitals, people on the Shore aren’t really used to it and at this hospital we prefer not to put patients in mixed rooms. However, we’re so busy now we have to look at all options.”

Waitemata DHB’s General Manager of Hospitals Rachel Haggerty says the Winter Ward adds an extra 11 bed spaces the hospital has not had before.


“It’s a 23 bed ward made up of 12 medical beds transferred from a mixed surgical/medical ward which will now become fully surgical. To establish a full medical ward we have added as many beds as we physically can. We’re using every corner of the hospital and we’ve planned as much as we can for extra nursing levels. We’re working on strategies to try and ensure staff and patients don’t have a repeat of last year.”

Creating a dedicated Winter Ward is a new initiative aimed at managing extra patient demand during winter. Although the hospital is operating at near-capacity the entire year, the June to December period is a time of particularly heavy workload which places a lot of stress on staff, says Ms Haggerty.

Last year saw the overcrowded hospital filled to bursting with patient volumes creating what hospital staff call “gridlocks” throughout the hospital.

“At times we had nowhere to move people to. Some patients who came through ECC (the Emergency Care Centre) experienced considerable delays in being transferred to wards. Patients were in beds in corridors as there was simply no ward space for them,” says Ms Haggerty.

As well as opening the Winter Ward, North Shore Hospital is also undertaking a campaign to encourage people to see their GPs and primary care providers before they become seriously unwell.

“As we all know prevention is better than cure,” says Ms Haggerty.

“Hospitals are places for people who are acutely unwell. Part of our winter campaign involves stemming the flow of inappropriate presentations to ECC. That means if you can see your GP first, you should.

“We’re asking the community to help us this winter and save the emergency department for emergencies only.”

Ms Moses, who has a background in emergency, theatres and medical nursing, says patients need to realise they will generally be discharged before they are 100 per cent well.

“If patients reach the point where they’re well enough to be treated outside a hospital environment, the most appropriate place for them is generally their own homes. However, people often still need treatment and care from family, primary care or the district nurse.”

Ms Moses says there has been great senior management support in setting up the new ward.

“It’s something we wouldn’t have been able to do without that management initiative. We really want it to be happy environment for staff to work in and for patients to experience.”

The ward will be decommissioned in December, allowing the Cardiology ward, currently on the ninth floor, to move back to its original third floor home.


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