Hospital visiting guidelines updated 16 September 2022: Hospital visitors must wear a surgical/medical paper mask. Fabric face coverings are not acceptable.  See our COVID-19 page for general COVID-19 advice, detailed hospital visiting guidelines and COVID-19 tests.

See for info on vaccinations.

Last updated:
16 September 2022

Fewer visitor restrictions now apply

For visitors to all facilities effective from 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

Temporary changes to the delivery of health care services to come into effect at Buller Health today

Friday 12 August 2022Health news4 minutes to read

In response to on-going staffing pressures across the West Coast, the following changes to how health care services will be delivered at Buller Health will come into effect today (12/08/2022).

  • Urgent patient stabilisation and observation services provided by our Foote Ward team will only be available between 7:00am – 11:00pm daily with the doors closing at 10:00pm.
  • Outside of these hours, all acute care will be managed in the same way as rural services provided by St John who will be supported by a PRIME trained clinician. Anyone needing admission overnight will be transferred to Greymouth’s Te Nīkau Hospital.

These changes are being made to ensure that we are able to continue providing acute / urgent care as well as routine primary care to the wider Westport community. We anticipate that we will continue operating in this way for at least six weeks, says Holly Mason, Te Whatu Ora Te Tai o Poutini West Coast’s Director of Nursing.

“Staffing shortages as a result of vacancies and sickness are impacting services Coast-wide and around the rest of the country. We are actively recruiting to permanent vacancies and while we have been successful in securing new staff, there is a lead in time before successful overseas applicants can come on board.

“Our teams have been doing a fantastic job, often going above and beyond, to ensure that services are maintained. We know staff are under pressure and we appreciate the extra mile everyone is going. On top of managing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and staff shortages, our Buller team has also had to deal with two significant flood events. It is essential that we implement these temporary changes that will help to reduce the current level of pressure across the system. Our focus now is on ensuring we have a sustainable level of staffing which will enable us to continue providing the full range of health care services.

“Prior to making these changes to Buller Heath’s services, our team have tried to secure staff from Te Nīkau and further afield from other districts but unfortunately they too are struggling to resource services. Locally, we are working with our partner agencies to ensure that health care services are available during this time. You can be reassured that if you need emergency or acute care that this will be available,” says Ms Mason.

Remember, if you are injured or experiencing severe symptoms, it’s critical that you call 111.

  • For appointments, enquiries, prescriptions or results please phone Buller Medical Centre on 03 788 9277 during week day opening hours (Monday – Friday; 8:45am – 5:00pm.
  • If you have a mild illness, you can check the Te Whatu Ora | Te Tai o Poutini West Coast or HealthInfo websites for more information on what to do or where to go if you are unsure.
  • If you are feeling unwell with any condition, you can phone Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free health advice 24/7 or your general practice team to discuss your situation and symptoms rather than visiting in person. This will ensure that you get to access appropriate treatment and medication to help you stay well, even if you are at home isolating.
  • For COVID-19 health advice please call 0800 358 5453.
  • If you’re worried about yourself, or someone in your whānau who has a respiratory illness, see the checklist here of symptoms to watch out for, and when you should seek medical advice.

Once again, we want to thank the Buller community for their on-going patience and apologise for any inconvenience that this situation may cause. Remember, you can help us out by planning ahead as much as possible for routine health care by booking early,” says Ms Mason.


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Page last updated: 12 August 2022

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