This summer the Chronicle is bringing you another look at some of the best content of 2019. This story originally ran on August 30, 2019.
When top cop Nigel Allan and health board chief executive Russell Simpson decided to spend a night walking in each other's shoes to help the organisations better work together, reporter Lucy Drake was invited to tag along. This is her report.
A typical Friday night for me would be having a few gins with the girls, not roaming the hallways of Whanganui's emergency department.
I have had the unfortunate experience of being both a patient and a family member of a patient - enduring the long painful hours in the waiting room while looking around to see the distress.
So, when invited for a tour by Whanganui District Health Board chief executive Russell Simpson, I too up the chance to see it from the other side.
I drove through the entrance of the hospital, past the large red emergency sign that slightly intimidates you as you find a park about 6pm.
After a briefing in Simpson's office, we met with Whanganui and Ruapehu Area Police Commander, Nigel Allan.
"Tonight is all about the police and ourselves, walking in each others' shoes," Simpson says.
The roles were slightly reversed four weeks prior when Simpson spent half the night out with Allan on a range of activities from bail checks to breath testing and family harm callouts.
The two went to callouts and then followed them through back to the hospital; a first-time experience for Simpson while being a chief executive, one that he said he found beneficial and actually led to change.
Simpson says his staff realised police were bringing people to the emergency department to get blood and alcohol assessments and that was taking up resources.
As a result Simpson and Allan were able to get 14 nurses signed up on a "catch as I can" basis working down at the police station to carry out the assessments.
"What that does is frees up resources in ED, so they don't need to come here to get their blood taken and a member of police doesn't need to sit with them when they get their blood taken," Simpson says.
"Our teams work quite closely together on the front line and I think mirroring it at the leadership level it provides us with the context where the opportunities are."
Allan says the reason for this night is to further build an understanding of the organisations and "how closely connected we are across a lot of what we do".
"It's to get a better understanding of our community full stop but our respective businesses as well so the better we can serve the community."
The plan of attack for the evening is simple: attend any incidents we hear over the police radio and follow them back to the emergency department to see the procedures that take place.
I'm unsure if I'm nervous or if it is the shakes from having just finished my fourth coffee, but we make our way down the white corridors down to the operations room.
We meet duty nurse manager Sarah Claughton who has the job of running operations including transfers from the flight team and anything happening on the premises.
"A cold or rainy night tends to decrease the numbers," Simpson says.
Rule number one of the night - before and after you enter a hospital ward, sanitise your hands with sanitiser provided at every entrance and exit.
Entering through the heavy doors we met a group of nurses, ducking in and out of white curtains to attend to patients.
It is almost 7pm now so the majority of these nurses are halfway through a shift which started at 2pm and is expected to finish around 11pm, depending on the circumstances.
Being on their feet for several hours, they have paired their baggy blue scrubs with a snug pair of running sneakers or croc look-alike shoes for comfort.
At the core of the emergency department is the operations centre where nurses are chatting amongst themselves about the evening's plans.
There are currently 16 patients being attended to with no one in the waiting room so far.
The nurses are assigned to patients on a large whiteboard that is scribbled in different colours relaying important information for the evening.
Depending how critically ill a patient is, with one to two being the most severe, will determine which nurse they are assigned.
Right now, there are only threes and fours assigned on the board.
What I expected to be a bustling, manic Friday night in Whanganui's Emergency department turns out to be quite the opposite.
Making our way through more white corridors we arrived at the critical care unit where we were welcomed by the constant beeping sound coming from a Telemetry monitor that records all the cardiac conditions in the hospital.
This sound followed by the faint chatter of a nurse attending to a patient and a young girl offering coffee from a coffee cart.
Four patients were admitted in critical care, with one bed to spare.
Two nurses chat to us about the night ahead of them before we move through to the maternity ward where everything is settled for the night.
Next stop, the special care baby unit that has a calming mood about it.
"I always get a special feeling coming in here, you never seem to lose the emotion," Simpson says.
Making our way through the children's ward, animals and cartoons are dotted on the walls making you feel a distinct difference between here and the emergency department.
On the floor that links the clinical services with the maternity, paediatric and critical care unit we come to a corridor that is no longer four white walls but instead a burst of colour.
Large photographs display some of Whanganui's most historic landmarks.
"We don't want people to walk in here and for them to feel like they're in a sterile, unwelcoming environment," Simpson says.
We also spend time reading up on the history of the hospital from 1850 to 2011 displayed on large information boards, while the chapel sits open and empty across from us, with its dimly lit yellow light and gospel sounds that play out into the corridor.
We are given a tour of the radiology wards that includes plain film and observing a CT scan being carried out on a patient from the critical care unit.
It takes almost as much time juggling with the wires as it does to carry out the scan, a procedure that can become tricky if it is a trauma patient, Simpson says.
Simpson explains if a patient comes in from a crash site, they go to the emergency department and if it is a trauma case they are moved swiftly for a CT scan or whatever is required.
"When it's trauma, the team needs to work really fast and that's when it becomes tricky when they are all connected to wires."
Simpson then addresses one of the greatest complaints the hospital receives. The wait time.
"[A patient with trauma] has more staff on and staff from ED would come through here which then leaves ED short," he says.
"A patient with trauma would bring a number of people with them so it takes them away from ED into here and then the patient goes back to ED but people out the front don't see any of this."
We finish off our tour through the operating theatres where we dress up in yellow gowns and blue hats and slippers and venture into a small room full of shelves stacked with pristine, shiny instruments.
Our tour guide, registered nurse in theatre services, Barbra Carson, also takes us to the cleaning stations in a large room hidden behind the theatres that somewhat reminds me of a laundromat with large sinks, cabinets, dryers and washers.
The attention to detail, down to the way you scrub your hands before an operation, can determine an infection on a patient.
I don't touch anything.
We take a final lap through the emergency department to see if the mood has shifted and then head out to the Whanganui police station around 9pm.
After some McDonalds for dinner, we sit with a number of officers and a constable in their office.
"We want to look at better outcomes for the individual and to be using time and resources in our best interest," Allan says.
Making our way back to the hospital we listened to the police radio but with nothing of substance, Simpson extends our tour out into the grounds through Te Awhina and past the forensic unit.
As the public health, human resources and district nurses blocks tower over us, I am overwhelmed by the scale size of the grounds which 1200 people work in.
Expecting the night to pick up, we hop back in Allan's car and cruise down Victoria Avenue with The Who playing over the radio.
After heading a few kilometres down Somme Parade to Dublin Street Bridge we decided to head out to Castlecliff and then called it a night as it was pushing 1am.
"You can see the better connected we are the better contribution we'll make," Allan says.
Simpson says: "That's where I see the huge merit in us doing so much more collectively."