Medical supplies and protective gear for hospital staff is well stocked at the hospital’s Covid-19 ward. Photo: EMMANUEL SAMOGLOU. 21012218
Protective gear is in stock, staff have been trained, and renovations are complete at a specially-equipped and segregated ward at Rarotonga Hospital, where severely ill patients will be treated should coronavirus arrive in the Cook Islands.
situation government is trying to avoid, but officials at Rarotonga’s Hospital
say they’re prepared for a worst case scenario – the arrival of the Covid-19.
a very small country, our resources are limited, not only with equipment but
also with manpower too. I cannot say that we are prefect, but we can only be as
ready as we are,” said Dr Yin Yin May.
Rarotonga Hospital’s director of health services Dr. Yin Yin May and hospital nurse manager Nga Manea in one of the Covid-19 ward’s negative pressure rooms, which was previously used for maternity services. Photo: EMMANUEL SAMOGLOU. 21012219
Covid-19 began spreading rapidly around the world last March, government made
an effort to revamp the delivery of healthcare by moving the hospital’s Out-Patients
and Emergency Department (OPED) services to the Tupapa Community Clinic,
clearing the way for Covid-19 care to be established at the hospital.
then, health officials under the guidance of then-Health Ministry Secretary Dr
Josephine Aumea Herman have been working to set up a dedicated facility to
accommodate any potential and serious cases of Covid-19.
result is a 32-bed isolation ward that also includes 10 beds in two negative
pressure rooms to treat critically ill Covid-19 patients, as well as other
also included a new oxygen plant, set up of four ventilators, and an upgrade of
the ward’s electrical wiring at a combine cost of over $650,000 according to
said the ward will be separated with barriers and no cars will be allowed to
park in the building’s vicinity.
positive Covid-19 case be identified in the community, the Covid-19 ward –
which has been named the ‘Te Kou ward’ – will be immediately activated by
hospital staff, she said.
said as only a small portion of cases require hospital care, she insists the
ward will be sufficient to treat the critically ill in the event of a Covid-19
published by the United States’ Centers of Disease Control and Prevention this
month put the hospitalisation rate for Covid-19 at 380.3 hospitalisations per
Te Marae Ora has had the ability to test for Covid-19 in-country since May 2020 using a GeneXpert machine, which uses cartridges (seen here) that have been in short supply worldwide. Photo: EMMANUEL SAMOGLOU. 21012216
cases of the virus that do not require hospital care, she said patients will be
asked to isolate at home and will be monitored by health staff at community
health centres in Rarotonga’s 10 punas.
that do not need respiratory support will be isolating at home or at community
health centres if needed,” she said.
staff have been undergoing training and will receive in-person training from
visiting New Zealand health officials next month, said Rarotonga Hospital’s
nurse manager Nga Manea.
Tupapa facility where emergency services have been relocated, road and parking
space upgrades have been made to improve patient flow.
standalone tent has also been set up to assess any suspected Covid-19 cases,
health officials said.
major works being carried out by Te Marae Ora include an in-progress CT scan
outfit, a mental health facility, and upgrades to the ministry’s information
technology systems, at a combined cost of roughly $3 million.