Hospital open only to emergency cases

12:04 pm on 23 February 2011

Christchurch Hospital remains open and large numbers of seriously injured people are being treated in the emergency department following a powerful earthquake on Tuesday.

However, the public has been asked to keep the emergency department of the hospital for emergencies only.

Patients with non-life-threatening injuries are being assessed and treated at Christchurch Women's Hospital and the outpatients department, while St George's Hospital is setting up as a trauma centre for people needing emergency attention.

Triage centres have been set up at: Latimer Square, the Sanitarium Factory in Papanui, the Bealey Avenue 24-hour Medical Centre, Princess Margaret Hospital and Christchurch Hospital.

Canterbury District Health Board chief executive David Meates said patients had spinal injuries, broken bones and cuts, and people had also presented wtih chest pains and heart attacks.

Mr Meates said two children and six adults were transferred to hospitals outside Canterbury, mainly Auckland, and some patients were moved to other hospitals within the area.

He said Christchurch Hospital had been "flat out" dealing with trauma and walking wounded, and hospital staff initially had to cope with facilities that had no power or water.

The Ministry of Health says patients with mild to moderate injuries are being seen at the after-hours centre at Bealey Avenue.

Medical staff from health boards throughout New Zealand are arriving and others are expected on Wednesday. The ministry said the hospital had asked for extra intensive care and neonatal intensive care nurses, as well as general medical, surgical and paediatric nurses.

The ministry said Christchurch Hospital is operational, but along with other hospitals in the region is damaged.

It said all people with non-serious injuries should contact their doctor or an after-hours centre and has also asked that people check on their neighbours.

Appeal to GPs

The Canterbury District Health Board is appealing to family doctors in Christchurch to make contact with it.

A spokeswoman for the DHB says they want to know which family doctors in the quake-stricken city will be open and taking patients tomorrow.

General practitioners are urged to text - not phone - Dr John Coughlan on 0274 316 986.

Injured patients transferred to Auckland

Auckland District Health Board cancelled all routine non-urgent surgery on Wednesday in anticipation of extra work.

Of the patients transferred to Auckland, the DHB said, an injured woman was being taken to Auckland City Hospital and a child to Starship. It said the full extent of their injuries was not known.

The board has five nurses on standby to travel to Christchurch at any time, as well as several surgeons, anaesthetists and intensive care staff ready to go if needed.