03 Aug Winter sicknesses keeping health services busy
Flu presentations at Tauranga Hospital are double what was seen last season.
Bay of Plenty District Health Board medical director Dr Hugh Lees said last year’s flu season was a mild one and the number of weekly presentations this year was currently running at double that of 2016.
The hospital is seeing about 60 influenza cases a week and about 20 respiratory virus cases a week.
Dr Lees said there was a higher prevalence of Influenza B this year and he expected the numbers presenting with flu-like conditions would increase further in the coming weeks.
While Tauranga Hospital was busy, it was coping with the patient numbers.
Tauranga Hospital’s ED clinical nurse manager Stephanie Watson said the number of patients presenting to ED had been increasing over the last six weeks, many of whom were suffering flu-like symptoms.
In July so far, Tauranga ED presentations have averaged 156 people a day, which was a 9 per cent increase on last year’s July daily average of 143.
Ambulance services around Tauranga and Mount Maunganui have been busier than usual this month.
St John Ambulance’s Western Bay territory manager Ross Clark said he did not know whether the increase was all due to influenza.
Normally the service answered about 116 calls daily but lately the numbers have hovered between 150 and 160 calls for the central eastern region – from Katikati to Gisborne.
“A change of season always brings more calls,” Mr Clark said.
The combination of respiratory issues along with Tauranga and Mount Maunganui’s elderly population meant more work for St John, which had five or six ambulances available every shift.
Hospitals in other parts of New Zealand reported being overwhelmed by the number of patients turning up at their doors.
Ministry of Health spokesman Stewart Jessamine said the rate of influenza had spiked in Waikato and Hutt Valley where it was twice and three times the rates of other areas.