Whanganui's Emergency Operations Centre, which has been leading the response to Covid-19 in the region, will now move out of a "response mode" into a "recovery mode" as the nation moves into level two.

The Whanganui District Health Board opened the centre on March 16 to respond to the pandemic.

Although it is DHB-led, the emergency centre is a collaboration with the Ministry of Health, partners in the health and social services sector, iwi and Civil Defence and emergency management teams.

Centre controller Louise Allsopp said the recovery phase would also involve working with councils and police.
Leighton Toy and Charlotte Almond, from Whanganui District Council area, and Warren Furner from the Ruapehu District Council have been appointed to the team, along with Arno Benadie from Rangitikei District Council.

Advertisement

"It's about none of us going this alone because it's about our communities and not what we believe as a system should happen," Allsopp said.

The centre's three key areas include health, given Covid-19 has been a global pandemic.

Leighton Toy is one of the two recovery managers from the Whanganui District Council area. Photo / Bevan Conley
Leighton Toy is one of the two recovery managers from the Whanganui District Council area. Photo / Bevan Conley

Another is a social aspect, which includes education, Ministry of Social Development and finding out how families and communities are coping.

"We're looking at the social determinants of health because that's where we can make a difference to the health of our people. Focusing on the hospital only is kind of like the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff; people are already sick when they need to come to hospital and we're wanting to focus our community on that wellness model," Allsopp said.

On Monday a team from the centre went up the Whanganui River Rd to swab asymptomatic residents and identify and vaccinate children who had not been vaccinated.

Allsopp said this was a good example of the recovery phase, and revealed more such action was needed.

The EOC was first based at the Whanganui Hospital and then moved to the Whanganui District Council chambers. Photo / Lewis Gardner
The EOC was first based at the Whanganui Hospital and then moved to the Whanganui District Council chambers. Photo / Lewis Gardner

The team has learned it needs to offer communities the opportunities they want, rather than imposing itself on them.

Another key area they have identified is looking at those who have lost their jobs in Whanganui and making sure psycho-social support is in place for them.

Advertisement

Allsopp said at this early phase they want to be responsive and prevent people from becoming unwell or hitting the bottom.

EOC controller Louise Allsopp says the recovery phase will involves DHB, councils, Police, iwi and other health and social services sectors. Photo / File
EOC controller Louise Allsopp says the recovery phase will involves DHB, councils, Police, iwi and other health and social services sectors. Photo / File

Toy said it is not up to the group, but up to business to decide how the community recovers economically.

"We're trying to understand the impact of Covid on our business community and what level of support can we provide for that," he said.

"There are going to be many businesses that are going to be stressed and struggling so ensuring that we are actually undertaking those outreach processes."

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website