A new ward for renal patients with Covid-19 is set to open at Hutt Valley Hospital within the next month.
The project is one of two the Hutt Valley and Capital and Coast DHBs have undertaken to ensure the care of Covid and non-Covid patients in the Wellington Region, following an allocation of $3 million in infrastructure funding.
The second project involves a reconfiguration of the emergency department screening area at Wellington Hospital, to better separate Covid and non-Covid patients.
There are currently 46 people with Covid-19 in Wellington Hospital, and 17 in the Hutt.
Chief medical officer of the two DHBs John Tait said the new Covid ward at Hutt Hospital involved the refurbishment of an unused building on the campus.
"A building on the Hutt Hospital site that was previously used as a daycare centre will be refurbished to create a four-bay satellite unit where renal patients who are Covid-positive can continue to receive treatment and support," he said.
"This means these people can still receive care, while remaining separate from non-Covid renal patients – many of whom are immunocompromised and have a higher risk of infection.
"Work has begun on the refurbishment, and we hope for the unit to be completed and open to patients by the end of this month or early April."
The ward would not be a dedicated Covid-19 inpatient ward, but an outpatient day unit, the DHB said.
Capital and Coast and Hutt Valley DHBs said there were no plans to establish a dedicated Covid ward at Wellington or Hutt Hospitals, but they were confident in their capacity to support Covid and non-Covid patients.
"Over the past two years we have continually assessed our facilities and increased the capacity of our hospitals in preparation for an influx of Covid-19 patients," DHB Chief executive Fionnagh Dougan said.
This had included converting a six-bed extension into a large negative pressure room and building two new air locks at Wellington Hospital's ICU.
Wellington Regional Hospital. Photo / Mark Mitchell
It also involved building additional surge capacity into the Hutt ICU, making improvements to their air-handling systems and reconfiguring existing spaces to ease pressure on ICU and other wards.
As at yesterday, Wellington Hospital was at 89 per cent capacity and Hutt Valley at 73 per cent, though the DHBs said this was not unusual for this time of year.
In anticipation of increased presentations of Covid to Wellington's emergency department, additional space had been created for screening of Covid-19, the DHB announced today.
While everyone coming to the emergency department is already screened for Covid-19 and high-risk patients isolated, existing spaces have now been reconfigured to improve this process.
"As Wellington Regional Hospital's 'front door', Te Pae Tiaki Wellington ED is vital in managing the flow of patients seeking hospital-level care," Tait said.
"In anticipation of an increase in people presenting to ED with Covid-19, we have reconfigured the ED screening area and created an additional space for secondary screening of known non-Covid-19 and potential Covid-19 patients."
"As well as increasing our screening capacity, this enables improved separation of patients."
Tait said the DHBs had detailed plans in place to ensure they would be able to continue delivering services in the Covid-19 climate.
"These infrastructure enhancements will play an important part in our work to balance the safety of staff and patients, and continue the delivery of safe care to both Covid-positive and non-Covid patients alike."