Spring brings little respite at hospital
Auckland Hospital is still between 95 and 98 percent full, despite the onset of spring.
In June the hospital went on the previously unknown “purple alert”, which indicates it is close to running out of room for patients.
Daily operations manager Denise Manning says occupancy rates are still higher than at the same time in previous years, but it’s diffi to pinpoint a specifi reason.
“I think the weather pattern has got a bit to do with it. It’s changeable going into spring, which always makes a difference for people.”
She says an increasing population and specialist services offered at the hospital are also a factor in the high occupancy rates.
“There’s population growth everywhere in Auckland, but particularly in the central city. Fifty percent of the population base comes from other DHBs.”
And the types of illnesses, such as chest infections developing into pneumonia, have kept people in hospital for longer.
Ms Manning hopes the number of patients will reduce in the next couple of weeks as the weather warms up.
A drop to between 88 to 95 percent full is a possibility between now and Christmas.
Ms Manning says it has been difficult to manage the high number of patients with staff shortages.
But others have been willing to “pick up the slack”.
“They have been fantastic. We could not ask for better support from nursing staff.
“It’s always very diffi when they have families they need to care for.”
Age Concern Auckland executive officer Grant Withers says elderly people always make up large numbers of patients in Auckland Hospital over winter.
“Every winter older people seem to suffer. It seems to ease back in the summer, but the winter knocks them a bit.”
He says North Shore and Waitakere hospitals had a large number of elderly patients as well.
One of the major problems for the elderly is many of them live in poorly insulated homes built in the 1930s and 1940s.
“They don’t want to move because they’ve been there for years,” Mr Withers says.
He says elderly in the North Island are better off than in the south where temperatures are a lot colder.