1 Dec 2021

Shortage of oximeters worries iwi healthcare provider

10:51 am on 1 December 2021

The boss of an iwi healthcare provider in Taranaki is worried a shortage of oximeters will hamper its ability to help whānau isolating at home with Covid-19.

Ngati Ruanui kaiwhakahaere Rachel Rae

Ngati Ruanui kaiwhakahaere Rachel Rae. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

It's expected most people with mild to moderate symptoms will self-isolate and recover at home, with a smaller number recovering in supported accommodation.

But Ngati Ruanui kaiwhakahaere, Rachel Rae, fears equipment shortages could make self-monitoring difficult

An oximeter clips onto your finger and measures your heart rate and the oxygen levels in your blood.

In the case of Covid, the oxygen saturation should be higher than 95 percent - and if it is not, medical assistance should be sought.

Rae - who was busy at an Eltham vaccination clinic - said the devices were in short supply.

"Ngati Ruanui at the moment have very limited stock of oximeters and temperature checks and things like that. We will have an issue.

"Hopefully the DHB or someone will can send us supply because we want to be prepared as much as we can."

Rae said, while boosting Māori vaccination rates remained a focus, her staff were already encouraging people to make plans for when Covid comes calling.

"We're talking about having a kai delivery so they don't have to go anywhere also having kits available for things that they may need which may include PPE gear, may include an oximeter.

"All those things they need health-wise to do the temperature checks and let us know what they are and have a wraparound service so they are cared for."

Iwi health providers in Taranaki are also providing staff with saliva testing and CPR training in preparation for endemic Covid.

Emere Wano

Emere Wano Photo: Robin Martin

Emere Wano is a member of the Nga iwi o Taranaki Covid recovery group - Te Aranga.

She said providing non-clinical people with these skills was important.

"That means we can stand up an iwi team of saliva testers to help ease the load on the clinical teams from our Maori health providers and the TDHB.

"That's one thing - and that's transferrable - and the other one is CPR."

Dan Young was taking advantage of Ngati Ruanui's saliva testing at Eltham.

"My partner's nephew over at Tauranga has got both of his vaccinations, but he's tested positive. So, I thought woah he's only like 21 or 22. So, I thought I'd better come over and give it a try."

Wano, meanwhile, could see fish hooks in any strategy which involved Māori being asked to isolate away from whānau.

"We don't move that way, we don't roll like that way. Like here we have a household of nine. Everyone is going to end up staying in one bubble. It doesn't matter if there's one person or eight or nine of us infected we are all going to stay together.

"There's nothing that can cater for us, but we are better off to stay at home. So, we then need a plan."

Taranaki DHB's interim general manager of Covid-19 response, Gillian Campbell, said it was identifying the needs of healthcare providers to ensure they had all the necessary equipment to deliver health assessments, and appropriate care, treatment and welfare to the people isolating at home.

It was also promoting a checklist for self-isolation available on the government's Covid-19 webpage.

Campbell said for people who could not isolate at home, facilities would be made available in Hāwera, Stratford and New Plymouth - free of charge for at least 10 days - to people infected with the virus and their household contacts.

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