Relief For Kiwi Patients With Mobile Surgical Bus Back In Operation
4th May 2020
The wheels on the nation’s iconic mobile surgical bus will be going round and round once more from Monday morning, ensuring regional New Zealanders in dire need of elective treatment get the operations they need – operations deferred for the past 6 weeks due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Six patients needing urgent general surgery treatment will be the first to get their operations on Monday, with the bus parked up alongside Canterbury’s Rangiora Hospital (The Rangiora Health Hub) for the first two weeks of its re-commencement.
“We are thrilled and relieved to now be able to offer much-needed elective surgery for New Zealand patients, many of whom have been patiently waiting at home for weeks to get a firm rescheduled date for their surgery” says Mobile Health Chief Executive Mark Eager.
The bus will be based at Rangiora Hospital for the first fortnight, then will be driven up to the Nelson region for the following two weeks – Covid-19 Level 3 regional travel restrictions limiting the buses normal five week nationwide travel schedule for the time being. The mobile surgical unit has been out of action due to Covid-19 since March 24th.
“We need to get back and running in a safe yet efficient way, so have decided to keep the bus in once place at a time at this stage to maximise our operating output” says Eager. “We will be able to provide elective general and gynaecological surgery for 40 Canterbury patients in the first week alone”.
Mobile Health is implementing a raft of additional safety measures in light of Covid-19 to ensure a safe operating environment for both patients and staff. There will be strict selection criteria i to ensure patients have no flu-like symptoms prior to their procedure, with patients undergoing new phone and text screening measures in the days leading up to their surgery. Patients will have their temperature checked, follow strict hand hygiene and wear masks on arrival. A new contact tracing system will record all patient details with only essential patient support persons allowed on site.
Increased infection prevention and control policies will take place on-board the mobile surgical unit including hand hygiene, equipment coverings, cleaning, decontamination, laundry and waste management. Staff will use N95/P2 masks where appropriate, along with fluid-resistant long-sleeved gowns, gloves and eye protection. No non-essential staff will be permitted to go on-board at any time.
“We are having to work with the ‘new normal ‘ right now to adhere to Level 3 travel restrictions but are looking forward to a future shift to Level 2 and a return to the mobile surgical unit’s usual five-week nationwide schedule, sending the bus right around the country to deliver elective surgery for rural New Zealanders who are patiently waiting for their essential operations” says Mark Eager.