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Health advice following West Coast Floods – Update 3

Monday 19 July 2021Health news8 minutes to read

Monday 19 July 2021 – 8.00pm

Please attribute comment to Philip Wheble, Incident Controller, West Coast DHB


Buller Health remains closed largely due to issues caused by flooding in the Boilerhouse and tunnels that run under the hospital. The Boilerhouse provides energy to heat the Buller Health facility, as well as the hot water. Thanks to FENZ who have assisted with pumping water out from the Boilerhouse today so plant and machinery can start to be dried and repaired.

The temporary ward at Club Buller has been working well. More beds and equipment have been moved to the temporary facility today. There are currently four inpatients.  One patient was transferred to Te Nikau in Greymouth today and one to Christchurch.

Additional nursing, medical, welfare and emergency response staff have arrived from Canterbury to support colleagues on the Coast and the wider Buller community.

Information for people returning home after a flood has been produced and contains useful, practical tips. (see attached ‘Protecting your health’)

Need health care?

Information on where and how to access health care on the coast has also been updated.

A pop-up drop-in Urgent Care clinic opened today and will be open for the rest of the week at 51 Russell Street, Westport. No appointments are necessary. The clinic is staffed by a GP and nurses and is open from 10am – 4.30pm until Friday.

*Note the entrance is at the rear of the building so please use the driveway on the left-hand side of the building (next to the Salvation Army hall).

If it’s an emergency, please call 111 – emergency services are operating.

When the Urgent Care clinic and Coast Medical are closed you can call your own GP clinic number and follow the instructions to be put through to a nurse who can advise on what to do and where to go if you need to be seen. The local practices are Buller Medical 03 788 9277 and Coast Medical 03 789 5000.

For health advice at any time

  • Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 – calls are answered 24/7
  • If you need to be seen, they will tell you what to do and where to go.
  • For wellbeing support you can talk to a counsellor free of charge, call or text 1737 any time of the day or night.
  • For pregnancy support and advice over the phone, please call your LMC/midwife.
  • If you have questions about your young child or baby’s health phone Plunketline on 0800 933 922 to speak to a Plunket nurse.
  • You can also visit our HealthInfo website for trusted health advice on a range of issues.

Information for people with outpatient appointments at Buller Health or GP appointments at Buller Medical (the primary care practice) this week

  • If you have a pre-booked appointment with a GP or nurse at Buller Medical or an outpatient appointment at Buller Heath this week please consider it postponed – unless you hear otherwise.
  • A limited number of outpatient appointments are going ahead at an alternative location, and anyone affected will be contacted directly.
  • Please note that there is no X-Ray facility at Buller Health this week.
  • If you need an urgent blood test or repeat prescriptions please visit the temporary Urgent Care clinic at 51 Russell Street.
  • Buller Pharmacy in Westport, at 168 Palmerston Street will be open tomorrow for over the counter medications and health advice.

 Wellbeing information

 Coping after a traumatic event – reactions, feelings and tips from West Coast PHO

 Common, normal reactions to a traumatic event 



  • Disbelief
  • Unreal and dreamlike
  • Numbness
  • Slow realisation of what has happened

Mood swings

  • Changeable moods for no apparent reason
  • Feelings of depression, anxiety, irritability, tearfulness or anger


  • Of damage to yourself or death
  • Of the event happening again
  • Of intense vulnerability
  • Of being alone
  • Of breaking down or losing control


  • Towards those who caused or allowed the event to happen
  • At the injustice and the senselessness of it all
  • At the shame and indignities
  • At the lack of understanding by others
  • At being singled out – why me?
  • Generalised anger and irritability


  • About the place or reminders of the event
  • About the dark
  • About being alone
  • About crowded places
  • About similar surroundings to where the event occurred


  • For having been exposed as helpless, emotional and needing others
  • For not having reacted as you would have wished
  • For being made to feel vulnerable, powerless or out of control


  • For the loss of the belief that the world is a safe and predictable place


  • About not doing anything to stop it
  • About the relief that you were not directly involved
  • About not being there
  • About not having done enough to prevent it

Common, normal reactions to a traumatic event



  • Change in level of sexual desire
  • Change of appetite/drinking/smoking habits


  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering, especially parts of the event
  • “If only” questions e.g. “If only… I hadn’t given him so much… I hadn’t taken the day off”
  • Questions about whether you did the right thing
  • “What if” questions
  • Attempts to shut out thoughts or memories of the incident


  • More easily startled
  • Generally agitated physically and mentally
  • More aware of loud noises
  • Heightened awareness of your environment


  • Because the world has changed for you
  • Because of unfamiliar feelings
  • Because something from the past is troubling you again (it is not unusual for unresolved issues from past events to surface at a time like this)

Sleep disturbances

  • Difficulty getting to sleep, staying asleep or waking early due to repetitive thoughts or increased anxiety


  • At unpredictable times and places


  • Of situations that remind you of the event
  • Of being alone or being in crowded places
  • Of the place where the event occurred




  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Shaking
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Choking in the throat and chest
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Muscle tension that may lead to pain e.g. headaches, neck and back aches, menstrual disorders, chest pain

What can I do?

  • Give yourself time: It takes weeks or months to accept what has happened and to learn to live with it. You need to grieve for your loss.
  • Be involved with others: It can help to spend time with others who have been through the same experience as you.
  • Talk it over: Let yourself think about the trauma and talk about it with others. If you cry when you talk, it’s natural and usually helpful. Take things at a pace that you feel comfortable with.
  • Take some time for yourself: At times you may want to be alone or just with those close to you. Sometimes you will want to be with other people, but not to talk about what has happened. This can also be part of the healing process.
  • Get into a routine: Even if you don’t feel much like eating, try to have regular meals and to eat a balanced diet. Taking some exercise can help – but start gently.
  • Take care: After a trauma, people are more likely to have accidents. Be careful around the home and when you are driving.
  • Do not: bottle up your feelings; take on too much; make major life changes; think you are abnormal, use excessive alcohol or other drugs to help you cope.

Children react in a variety of ways, depending on their age:

  • Become easily upset, cry or whine more often
  • Get angry, act out or get into trouble
  • Be afraid to sleep alone, have nightmares or difficulty falling asleep
  • Be afraid to be left alone or out of their parent’s sight

Withdrawal, aggressive behaviours (fighting, hitting, etc.), trouble at school, problems separating from parents or going to sleep may mean they need extra help.

Family and friends will probably be able to see you through this difficult time. However, you may need to seek additional help (e.g. from your GP or phone help line) if:

  • you have no one to share your feelings with
  • you can’t handle your feelings and feel overwhelmed by sadness, anxiety, or nervousness
  • you feel that you are not returning to normal after six-eight weeks
  • you have nightmares and cannot sleep
  • you are getting on badly with those close to you
  • you stay away from other people more and more
  • your work is suffering
  • those around you suggest you seek help
  • you have accidents

Local contact: 

Please contact your local medical centre or rural clinic for a referral to the PHO Brief Intervention Counselling team.

Phone based Counselling for Community Services Card Holders Only:

Puāwaitanga 0800 782 999  (self-referral; have your CSC number when you call)

National 24 hour helplines:

Healthline 800 611 116 + Victim Support 0800 842 846 + Lifeline 0800 543 354 + Youthline 0800 376 633



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Page last updated: 20 July 2021

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