Taranakiís doctors and nurses are prepared for COVID-19 response

8 April 2020

Photo: Taranaki DHB’s Paediatric Advanced Trainee Dr Logan Wingate taking part in the BASIC for COVID training course.

More than 80 of Taranaki DHB’s doctors have put their hands up for a one-day BASIC for COVID training course so they are prepared, if needed to help fight COVID-19 in Base Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Dr Jonathan Albrett, HOD Intensive Care says, “Hawkes Bay Intensive care specialist, Dr Ross Freebairn has developed the COVID specific training course to help introduce ICU concepts to other groups of doctors who don’t usually work in ICU. 

“If a lot more kiwis are hospitalised with COVID-19, the likelihood that extra clinical staff will need to step in to help out in ICUs across New Zealand is possible. Taranaki is no exception,” he adds.

For this reason Dr Freebairn who teaches the BASIC for COVID course, has generously waived any fees and enlisted the help of Dr Mike Park, Head of Department - Hawkes Bay ICU to help Taranaki run their first course on April 01.  Dr Freebairn trained Dr Albrett and ICU nurse educator, Briget McDonald to become BASIC instructors, so they can continue teaching intensive care concepts in Taranaki DHB hospitals. Dr Albrett and Briget, along with local ICU staff will now run BASIC for COVID courses weekly for doctors and senior ICU nurses. A BASIC for nurses course will start next week for nurses with less ICU experience.

“We are extremely grateful to Dr Freebairn that he has been able to help us organise a local course, especially given he is also running the training in Hawkes bay, and working in intensive care” said Dr Albrett.

Taranaki DHB doctors participating in the training include house surgeons, registrars, and senior doctors from ED, anaesthesia, Hawera, general surgery, orthopaedic surgery, general medicine, paediatrics, dental, obstetrics and gynaecology. 

Dr Albrett explains, “The hope is to put 100 of Taranaki DHB Senior’s and resident doctors and 60 ICU and other nurses through the course over the next few weeks, with the first course completed last week and a nursing course starting soon.

“It's great for the morale of our ICU staff to know that so many of their colleagues are prepared to pitch in and help should the hospital need it.”

Rosemary Clements, Taranaki DHB chief executive says, “It’s incredibly positive to know that so many of our doctors and nurses, all with their different specialities, are prepared to help out should we need them.”

Taranaki DHB staff have also been flat out making sure facilities at both Base and Hawera hospitals are well prepared for COVID-19 and its impact on staff, patients and family/whānau.

Nurse Manager, Cameron Grant-Fargie, who is leading the facilities upgrade says, “The extensive work is all in aid of creating safe treatment spaces for COVID-19 patients and for the staff caring for them. This has been achieved by using external spaces in the Emergency Department (ED) for the triage process and setting up multiple negative pressure spaces in the ED. ”

“Negative pressure spaces use lower air pressure to prevent internal air from reaching the rest of the hospital, allowing patients with infectious conditions to be isolated,” explains Mr Grant-Fargie.

The ICU has also been transformed so that there is a clear pathway and areas for Covid-19 patients to be cared for safely.

“Multiple negative pressure rooms have sprung up over night in our ICU. There are new walls and spaces that have been painted and look as if they have been there forever,” explains Mr Grant-Fargie. “Ward 4A has also been set up as a negative pressure unit, if required.”

Mrs Clements says, “All the work achieved sends a clear message that Taranaki’s hospital facilities and staff are prepared.

“It’s important that our community knows about all of the work being done behind the scenes to make sure that we are in the best possible position to get everyone through COVID-19 and this challenging time.”


Last updated: Wednesday, April 8, 2020

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