The Lakes District Health Board spent thousands of dollars on 200 3D-printed masks in a move to combat a short supply in 2020. The masks lasted roughly six months but the board boss has no concerns about future supply.
The Ministry of Health directly supplies the Health and Disability system with personal protective equipment (PPE), a spokesperson said.
"As well as district health boards, this arrangement covers general practice and urgent care facilities, aged residential care, home and community support services, other providers and services, and other agencies."
They said the impact of any future Omicron outbreak was being included in ongoing Covid-19 response planning, including what, if any, changes might be required to PPE stocks and distribution.
It was confident there were good stocks of PPE, with at least eight weeks of stock based on forecast usage at high pandemic volumes.
"Our PPE supply chain currently holds close to 25 million N95/P2 particulate respirators, 240 million medical masks, 11.5 million isolation gowns, 1.1 million face shields, 235 million nitrile gloves, and good volumes of hand sanitiser, disinfectant wipes and other items of PPE utilised across the health and disability sector."
District health boards ordered their PPE through a centralised portal established in 2020.
"As part of the Covid-19 response, we have continued to work with the Health and Disability system to deal with a range of scenarios as part of its Covid-19 response planning, including an Omicron outbreak," they said.
Facing Covid-19 challenges, Lakes DHB in 2020 commissioned local businesses to fill demand for personal protective equipment.
Over about a month, Rotorua-based Kilwell Fibretube, Scion and High Duty Plastics produced 200 masks.
These face shields comprised a 3D-printed headband and perspex shield with an elastic band at the back.
Lakes DHB chief executive Nick Saville-Wood said there were some troubles getting elastic and high-density plastic, so they were supplied in stages of about 50.
"We got them to the most needy. This came about through conversations between a staff member and Kilwell."
Most of them were used over six months.
"They were robust and reusable so that made a big difference."
He said they were purchased as a normal stock item for about $15 each, or $3000 total.
But the need for adaptability did not stop there, and he had previously said he was "particularly proud" of what staff had done in response to Covid-19.
While they were unlikely to be needed now, nine anaesthetic machines were installed with a modifying block to enable them to be used as ventilators.
"Anaesthetic machines reuse the air a patient exhales by removing carbon dioxide.
"The problem is moisture builds up in the system if used for a prolonged period and can create machine or patient issues."
The modification changed the gas flow in the machine and reduced moisture build-up. This work was facilitated by one of the DHB anaesthetists.
"We have since received additional ventilators from the [ministry] meaning that this solution is unlikely to be required," Saville-Wood said.
He also described how staff made a piece of equipment called BART (Barrier for Airborne/Respiratory Transportation of Unmasked Patients).
This clear tent is placed over a patient for safe transfer between wards. It was made in-house and cost about $800.
For now, he had no concerns about future demand of PPE.
"There have been no shortages for the last year and the system is working well."
A spokesperson for Scion said it contributed its background in polymer science, engineering and processing as well as background from its work around additive manufacturing (3D printing) for the mask-making.
Other recent Covid-19-related work included its contribution to research into a vaccine against Sars-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19.
The Covid-19 Vaccine Corporation Limited vaccine would be given in addition or in conjunction with the Covid-19 vaccines currently being administered to provide broader protection against current and future variants.