Hawke's Bay District Health Board is limiting visitor numbers and has set up checks outside its emergency departments' front entrances to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Medical Officer of Health Dr Rachel Eyre on Saturday confirmed temporary changes at its hospitals and health centres in response to Covid-19.
"To help protect our vulnerable patients and our staff, we need to put sensible measures in place to reduce the chance of any infection spread," Eyre said.
"As we boost our response to Covid-19, we have introduced a new visitor policy, as well as stationing staff in full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) outside the front entrance of Hawke's Bay Hospital's emergency department to double-check travel history and the reason for coming to ED, before entering.
"We are currently in the 'Keep it out, Stamp it out' phase and this is a necessary step to protect our patients and our staff so that we can continue to focus on providing care," she said.
From 5pm on Saturday, the DHB has limited the number of people coming into its facilities as follows.
• Emergency Departments – one support person only to accompany people presenting to ED.
• Villa Outpatient Appointments – one support person per patient.
• Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) – parents only visiting.
• All remaining in-patient wards and services – one visitor per patient at any one time.
• No children under 16 to to be allowed on hospital visits.
• Visitors will not be allowed to visit any Covid-19 patients.
• Maternity – one support person only. Must sign in and sign out.
There are some exceptions:
Clinical Nurse Managers and Duty Managers can assess requests on a case-by-case basis. For example, exceptions will be considered on compassionate grounds for end-of-life care. If unsure, please call the hospital on (06) 878-8109 to be transferred to the ward where your loved one is.
Dr Eyre stressed anyone visiting someone at the hospital must be well and not displaying any symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, sneezing or a runny nose.
Additionally, anyone who is required to be in self-isolation should stay home and call ahead to their GP or Healthline 0800 358 5453 if they are worried about their health.
"Now, more than ever, we need people to unite and do the right thing.
"Do not visit our patients if you are unwell. Also, if you think you have Covid-19 symptoms, call ahead to your GP or Heathline where you will be assessed over the phone and directed to a community-based assessment centre for testing, if required.
"We need our health workforce to be well and we need everyone in our community to follow this important advice and make responsible choices."