HOSPITAL VISITING

There is still a heightened risk to vulnerable people in hospital, so we recommend all people to continue wearing a mask when visiting any of our facilities and follow other advice designed to keep patients, staff and visitors safe.  See our COVID-19 page for general COVID-19 advice, detailed hospital visiting guidelines and COVID-19 tests.

See West Coast COVID-19 vaccination clinics for info on vaccinations.

Last updated:
16 September 2022

Fewer visitor restrictions now apply

For visitors to all facilities (effective from and last updated on 16 September 2022)

Some visitor restrictions for all Te Whatu Ora Te Tai o Poutini West Coast health facilities remain in place, but we have relaxed others.

There is still a heightened risk to vulnerable people in hospital and so people must continue to wear a mask when visiting any of our facilities and follow other advice designed to keep patients, staff and other visitors safe.

Kia whakahaumaru te whānau, me ngā iwi katoa – this is to keep everybody safe:

  • Visitors or support people must not visit our facilities if they are unwell. Do not visit if you have recently tested positive for COVID-19 and haven’t completed your isolation period.
  • Patients in single rooms may have more than one visitor while patients in multi-bed rooms can have one visitor only per patient to ensure there is no overcrowding.
  • People can have one or two support people to accompany them to outpatients appointments.
  • Women in labour in a birthing suite, in Te Nīkau Hospital’s Maternity Ward and in Buller’s Kawatiri Maternity Unit can have the usual support people, subject to space, for the duration of their stay in our facilities.
  • Eating or drinking at the bedside is at the discretion of the Clinical Nurse Manager. Visitors must not eat or drink in multibed rooms because of the increased risk when multiple people remove their mask in the same space.
  • Hand sanitiser is available and must be used.

Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as our staff work hard to protect and care for some of the most vulnerable in our community.

Mask wearing

  • Surgical/medical masks must be worn at all sites, except in counselling, mental health and addiction services where it’s on a case-by-case agreement with patients. Masks will be provided if you don’t have one. In higher-risk environments, people, including young children, may not be able to visit if they cannot wear a mask.
  • Any member of the public with a mask exemption is welcome in all our facilities when attending to receive health care and *treatment. Please show your mask exemption card and appointment letter to staff at the entrance. *Treatment includes coming into the Emergency Department, outpatient appointments, surgery or a procedure.

Visiting patients with COVID-19

  • People are able to visit patients who have COVID-19 but they must wear an N95 mask – this will be provided if you don’t have one.
  • Other methods of communication will be facilitated e.g. phone, Facetime, Zoom, WhatsApp etc where visits aren’t possible.

You must NOT visit our facilities if you

  • are COVID-19 positive
  • are unwell. Please stay home if you have a tummy bug or cold or flu/COVID-19-like symptoms (even if you’ve tested negative for COVID-19).

Te Whatu Ora West Coast Aged Residential Care facilities

Visitors are welcome at our Aged Care Residential facilities, subject to the space available. All visitors must wear a surgical mask.

More COVID-19 information

How many times over the past five years did non-residents need emergency ambulance assistance – and the cost

RE Official Information Act request WCDHB 9297

I refer to your email dated 21 February 2019 to the Ministry of Health and subsequently partially transferred to us on 21 March 2019 requesting the following information under the Official Information Act from West Coast DHB regarding the use of New Zealand’s ambulance services by non-residents and tourists over the past five years.

1.        How many times over the past five years did non-residents needed emergency ambulance assistance?

 West Coast DHB does not hold any information at all in regard to this question, as it is not part of our services that we provide or administer in any way as part of our organisation. We are therefore declining a response to this question under section 18(g) of the Official Information Act. Emergency transport to hospitals in our district is undertaken by St John under national contracts that they hold directly with the Ministry of Health and ACC.  We would respectfully suggest that you approach those organisations for information that they might hold in this matter.

2.        How much have emergency assistance ambulance trips for non-residents cost over the past five years?

As above, West Coast DHB does not hold any information at all in regard to this question, as it is not part of our services that we provide or administer in any way as part of our organisation. We are therefore declining a response to this question under section 18(g) of the Official Information Act. Emergency transport to hospitals in our district is undertaken by St John under national contracts that they hold directly with the Ministry of Health and ACC. We would respectfully suggest that you approach those organisations for information that they might hold in this matter.

3.        How much have non-urgent patient transfers of non-residents cost over the past five years?

For the purpose of answering this question, we are only able to provide information on non-residents who are not eligible for free health care while here in New Zealand and pay for services. Non-residents in New Zealand may still be eligible for free health care and services while in our country if they meet the required work visa holder, asylum seeker, Commonwealth scholarship student, Aid programme, or other similar eligibility status criteria, for receiving the same range of free health care services as resident New Zealand citizens. Such patients are excluded from our data below, as they are included in public funded transfers and not charged for costs of services.

West Coast DHB only pays for inter-hospital transfers that we request, that are not otherwise covered by ACC. ACC cover the costs of inter-hospital transfers where these occur within 24 hours of the accident, including accident-related non-resident transfers. As such, we do not hold any information on the component of cost of inter-hospital transfers incurred by ACC. Such cases make up more than half of the non-resident inter-hospital transfers from our services.

Among those inter-hospital transfers for patients who are ineligible, non-residents of New Zealand that we have funded at the outset, and based on average costs that we pay, West Coast DHB has paid an estimated $67,937 overall during the past five financial year periods, from 1 July 2014 to the current 2018/19 financial year-to-date to 28 February 2019. Wherever possible, payment for these transportation costs are sought from the non- resident patient and/or their health or travel insurance company, along with reimbursement of such costs of their health care that they may be provided with.

4.        What were the top five most expensive ambulance trips for non-residents?

 The top five most expensive inter-hospital non-emergency ambulance trips for patients who are non-residents of New Zealand and not eligible for free heath cares, have all been by pressurised fixed-wing air ambulance aircraft for transfers to tertiary hospitals in other DHB districts (principally Canterbury). As above, wherever possible, payment for these transportation costs are sought from such non-eligible, non-resident patients and/or their health or travel insurance company, along with such costs of their health care that they may be provided with.

The most expensive ambulance trip was $5,981 (excluding GST) for an air ambulance transfer from Greymouth to Wellington; and the next top four after that were air ambulance transfers Greymouth to Christchurch. The average cost of these four trips was approximately $3,800 excluding GST.

5.        Which districts had the most expensive ambulance costs for non-residents?

 We do not hold any information in this regard to be able to answer your question – this will need to be determined by yourself once you receive the respective responses from other DHBs to your Official Information Act request. We are therefore declining a response to this question under section 18(g) of the Official Information Act.

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Page last updated: 7 May 2019

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