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Calls to help keep pressure off ED these holidays

Phil Beck. Supplied photos.

Local residents and visitors to the Bay of Plenty are being urged to plan ahead to help stay well and avoid overwhelming healthcare services this summer.

With Covid-19 circulating in the community, primary healthcare leaders are doubling down on the message to prepare for any eventuality, including the situation where people test positive for Covid-19 over the holidays or away from home.

Preparation is key this festive season, and it is essential that every local household or group visiting the Bay of Plenty has talked about scenarios that could play out relating to Covid-19, says Phil Back, General Manager for Practice Services at Western Bay of Plenty Primary Health Organisation.

“Our population increases over the holidays, as does the demand on local health services. While we are pleased to see vaccination rates continue to climb, people must remain vigilant to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by masking, scanning, using Vaccine Passes where they apply, and getting swabbed when unwell.”

People should also make sure they have enough of their repeat medicines to avoid making unnecessary trips to the Emergency Department if they run out of them, says Phil.

“We need to keep ED for emergencies.”

If you are heading out of town on holiday, packing some of the first aid basics such as plasters, antiseptic cream and some paracetamol gives you something to use to either avoid medical assistance, or help while you seek medical support.

Other health professionals, such as physiotherapists and pharmacists, can also provide valuable medical assistance.

“If you’re injured with a sprained ankle, for example, a physiotherapist is often a better first option rather than a GP.

“For minor illnesses, a pharmacist is another great option. And many pharmacies have longer opening hours over the holiday period.”

Phone your GP day or night

Bay of Plenty residents needing healthcare advice are reminded they can phone their GP day or night.

A nurse triage service answering after-hours calls is in place for all the Bay’s GPs, says PHO Clinical Director Dr Claire Isham.

Claire Isham.

“By calling your doctor you will get transferred to a nurse who can help assess your problem and advise on the next best steps,” she says.

“This can help avoid unnecessary visits to medical centres or the Emergency Department.”

“Anyone with cold, flu or Covid-19 type symptoms, and especially before travelling, should get tested. Testing centres are available across the region and we advise people with symptoms to contact their Practice before attending.”

Information about testing centres can be found at https://www.healthpoint.co.nz/covid-19/bay-of-plenty/tauranga/.

Those people visiting the Western Bay of Plenty who are not registered with a local GP can access medical advice by calling 0800 367 432584.

Covid care in the community

With an expectation that people will continue to test positive for Covid in the Bay of Plenty, and require care and monitoring at home as they recover, the PHO is providing support to the local Covid Primary Response Team.

The team will remain active through the Christmas/New Year period.

If you become unwell or have been exposed to a Covid-19 case while away from home, contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and arrange to get tested.

Following the guidance of health professionals is essential, adds Dr Isham.

“We understand people are looking forward to their summer break, seeing whānau and travelling, but we ask that people follow any advice they are given regarding getting tested and isolating whilst waiting for results, or in the event they test positive.”

Find out more at https://covid19.govt.nz/.../keep.../stay-safe-this-summer/.

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