The Northland DHB has devised a triage system to ensure that anyone who requires medical attention can safely present themselves at any hospital in the region.

Separate zones, green and red, have been set up to separate those presenting with Covid-19 symptoms and those needing other urgent medical care, with all prospective patients screened at the hospital entrance to ensure they go to the safest place for them to be seen.

Anyone who presents with symptoms of Covid-19 will be directed to the Red Zone for assessment, while all others will go to the Green Zone.

Part of the outpatient facility at Whangārei Hospital has been repurposed to create an extra 16-bed Medical Assessment Unit for adults and children who might have Covid-19. There are several single rooms with negative pressure for safe care in the Red Zone in Whangārei and the other hospitals, so that suspected cases of Covid-19 are separated from others who might have the virus. A dedicated lift to connect the Red Zone areas of the hospital has also been assigned.

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Dargaville Hospital's general ward remains in the Green Zone, with the Red Zone in another part of the hospital. After-hours access to the hospital has changed, and patients are asked to follow the directions.

Bay of Islands Hospital's new facility is the Red Zone, with designated isolation rooms within the new emergency department. If numbers of presentations increase, the old part of the hospital will be used to continue providing emergency care to patients who present without Covid-19 symptoms.

Kaitaia Hospital's second floor, currently the day surgery and theatre department, has been designated as the inpatient Red Zone there.

Hauora Hokianga's Rāwene Hospital is asking anyone who is worried or thinks they need care to phone (09) 405-7709) before arriving, so staff can assess the care needed and make arrangements to see them appropriately. The community-based testing centre, accessed via Honey St, is open from 10am to 2pm Monday to Friday.

Meanwhile urgent outpatient care across the region is now provided via telephone and video links, freeing up the facility space for other uses and keeping Northlanders safe in their bubbles.

In line with the government's directive, the DHB has also adopted a no visitor policy, with only a few exceptions. Only one well person who is supporting a terminally ill patient through end of life care, a child or a pregnant woman, is permitted to visit, although exceptions may be made on essential and compassionate grounds. A lead clinician will make the decision, and the visitor will undergo screening before they enter to ensure they are well, have clean hands, and are using appropriate personal protective equipment.

The DHB and Māori health providers have also now moved to a seven-day community-based testing schedule, with all locations offering weekend testing. For more information about the community-based testing centres, go to the Northland DHB website.