COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Information about changes at West Coast DHB Grey Base Hospital and health centres can be found on our dedicated COVID-19 Information page

Visitors and family

He paronga ma te hunga toro mai me te hunga tautawhi – Information for visitors and support people

Temporary changes to limit visitor numbers at West Coast DHB facilities have been implemented

25 March 2020

West Coast DHB Medical Director Dr Graham Roper today announced significant temporary changes to the DHB’s visitor policy in response to COVID-19 (coronavirus).

“As part of our efforts to reduce the chances of COVID-19 or any other infection spreading to our vulnerable patients, a number of temporary changes have been introduced to our visitor policy.

Anyone who is sick should not be coming to visit anyone in hospital; while this is advisable at any time it is incredibly important now, says Dr Roper.

“We are now limiting the numbers of people coming into our facilities. These changes are being put in place to minimise the risk of visitors who are unwell spreading illness to patients. Access is being controlled and everyone can expect to be asked screening questions at the door and will be asked to sign a register.

Visiting hours will remain the same for services (as publicised on our website for each service) but what is changing is the number of visitors coming in and the number of support people accompanying people coming in for appointments.

The following changes now apply:

Grey Base Hospital
• Emergency Department – one support person only to accompany people presenting to ED
• All remaining inpatient wards and services – no more than one visitor per patient at any one time.
• No children under 16 to come hospital visiting.
• Exceptions: Clinical Nurse Managers can assess requests on a case-by-case basis. For example, exceptions will be considered on compassionate grounds for end of life care.
• Visitors will not be allowed to visit any COVID-19 patients.

Visiting hours at Buller Health have been restricted from 2pm – 4pm with a limit of one family visitor per patient for 15 minutes.

“We have also implemented access restrictions into all other health facilities including general practices across the Coast. Face-to-face GP appointments will not be accepted unless the patient has first had a remote consultation via telephone, video, email or text,” Dr Roper says.

For people with outpatient appointments, we are implementing the same restrictions. Please call the phone number on your appointment letter to confirm your appointment and staff will arrange a phone or video consultation as an alternative to a face-to-face appointment.

It’s vital that we reduce the numbers of people coming into our facilities to reduce the opportunity for any infections to spread. I would like to thank people in advance for their cooperation and playing their part to keep our patients safe.

We also advise anyone who has returned from a country or territory of concern, or who has been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days, or who is experiencing symptoms – including cough, sore throat, or fever or shortness of breath – or who is generally unwell to avoid visiting people in our hospitals.

Only people with symptoms should call Healthline’s COVID-19 line on 0800 358 5453.

Prevent infections if you are visiting a patient

  • Please leave infections at home – do not visit if you are feeling unwell. If you have recently had sickness and diarrhoea you must not visit until you have been free from symptoms for at least two days. Cover up any open wounds or cuts.
  • Use the alcohol hand rub freely available from the hand hygiene stations in the hospital foyers or at the entrances to all wards and clinics
  • Do not sit on the patient’s bed – use the chairs provided
  • Do not touch patient’s wounds, bandages/dressings, or medical equipment
  • Do not clutter – help staff to keep areas clean by only bringing essential items into the hospital and taking things home that are not required
  • Do not use patient toilets on the wards – use the visitor toilets located outside the wards.

Visitor Restrictions

Under COVID-19 Alert Level 2 visitor access for all West Coast DHB health facilities will continue to be restricted. Please remember, limiting our interactions with others is our best defence against COVID-19. Please don’t visit the hospital if you don’t need to.

The following visitor restrictions are in place for all West Coast DHB health facilities:

  • All visitors will be assessed at the entry to ensure they meet the exception criteria and will be required to register their details
  • Visitors who are unwell or have suspicion of COVID-19 will not be able to enter
  • Children under the age of 16 will not be able to visit
  • Aged residential care visitors:
    • Visits are limited to a designated visitor, by appointment and sign in process.
    • Lengths of visits and visiting areas will be determined at the discretion of the provider.
    • Health screening and assessment of visitors will be completed before entering the facility.
    • Visitors must follow the DHB infection prevention and control measures, for example hand hygiene, physical distancing and appropriate use of PPE.

Visiting Hours

General wards

10am to 2pm. 

We would like to advise that under COVID-19 Alert Level 2, we still only allow 1 visitor at a time but we are now allowing more than one person to visit a patient each day during visiting hours. Each visitor can only visit once.

Maternity/paediatric wards 10am to 8pm.

Support people are designated only – more information

Intensive/coronary care units Only family may visit, and only on discussion with nurses

Each ward has patient phones. If you want to phone a patient, call the health facility and ask to be transferred to the correct ward. Ward staff will take a portable phone to the patient if they are able to take your call.

Grey Base Hospital administration desk: 03 769 7400 extension 0

Feeling sick

Please don’t put our patients at risk. Stay away if you have an infection, a runny noses, cold or flu-like illness. Please stay away from hospital for three weeks if you have been near someone with a contagious disease such as chicken pox or measles.

Be considerate

Please show consideration and respect for all patients and staff caring for them. This will help us deliver the best patient care for everyone in a shared environment.

Leave quickly and quietly if requested by staff – you could be asked to leave for treatment or safety reasons, or if you are causing a disturbance.

Hand Hygiene

For the safety of our patients, we require all visitors and key support people to clean their hands with soap and water and dry thoroughly or use hand gel when entering or leaving the ward and patients room. Hand gel found at the hospital entrance and at the ward door.

Hand hygene pdf

Keep it short

Fifteen minutes may feel short to you, but it can be a long time for a patient. Consider saving longer visits for when your family member or friend returns home.

Two at a time

If another visitor arrives, consider leaving. It can be overwhelming for the patient to be surrounded by visitors. We suggest two at a time.

Food and Drink

Always ask a nurse before bringing food or drink to the ward, there may be reasons why the patient cannot have it.

Many patients find it hard to eat when they have visitors. Unless they need help, consider leaving or going for a walk when the meal arrives. They may be too embarrassed or too shy to ask you to go.

Sit and Speak

Sit down so you are at eye level when you talk. Talk to, not over the patient.

Speak quietly and clearly. Lower your tone; do not raise your voice if you think you are not being heard clearly.

Supervise Children

Watch your children at all times and make sure their actions are respectful of the safety, comfort and privacy of all patients, visitors and staff. Consider bringing something to keep them occupied if you intend to stay for more than a few minutes.

Family can visit patients who are seriously ill at any time with the approval of the nurse in charge. If your friend or family member is unwell, or English is not their first language, you may be able to stay with them. However, we encourage visitors to keep to visiting hours as much as possible, to give patients time to rest.

If family members are likely to be away from home, it is important to leave contact telephone numbers with the ward staff.

Flowers are beautiful, but too many flowers at the bedside can get in the way of staff caring for a patient. Flowers are not allowed in ICU (intensive care) because they can cause infections.

Staff will deliver flowers as soon as they arrive.

All staff, patients, and visitors have the right to be in a safe environment. Visitors are asked to:

  • Respect the safety, comfort and privacy of patients, visitors and staff
  • Turn off your cell phones between 9pm and 7am so patients can rest
  • Respect the environment and do not smoke or vape in or around the hospital and grounds

Please do not be offended if we ask why you are visiting the hospital. Staff might question you if you are on site out of normal visiting hours, or in an area not usually used by members of the public.

You will have to leave the hospital or facility if:

  • Your behaviour creates a risk or threat to patients, staff or other visitors. This includes verbal and physical abuse, threatening and violent behaviour including obscene language or gestures
  • You are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • You bring weapons, gang insignia, alcohol, illegal drugs or harmful substances

Consider how you can help when your family member or friend goes home. Visiting them at home is often even more appreciated and useful than visiting at hospital.

Business visitors, sales and charity representatives

These visitors need permission to access West Coast DHB facilities.

  • Arrange your visit in advance with the person you need to speak to
  • Register at reception and wear a visitor’s pass
  • Follow West Coast DHB rules and guidelines while on site

Media visiting West Coast DHB facilities can find information on our Media Guide page.

Page last updated: 22 May 2020

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