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Information and resources for health professionals

Information and resources on COVID-19 for health professionals and materials to share with patients. 

Key resources for health professionals

 

Staying safe as a health professional

Information for primary care on how to manage and support COVID-19 positive patients is available from Health Pathways.

Separate guidance is available on managing and supporting COVID-19 positive patients who are children.

If one of your patients tests positive for COVID-19, you do not need to notify Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS). ARPHS receives positive results as a matter of course.

Each DHB now has the delegation to complete a risk assessment on each patient to determine the safest destination for their self-isolation.

  • Patients who have presented and are known COVID positive can return back home on discharge.
  • Patients who were referred from MIQ are to be discharged directly back to the referring MIQ. You should complete a medical/nursing handover and no repeat referral is required.
  • Patients who have tested positive on presentation and are for discharge need to have a risk assessment to determine disposition. The default option is for patients to self-isolate at home, but you can also refer a patient directly into MIQ if deemed necessary following a risk assessment.

For further advice on discharging a COVID-19 patient contact your Charge Nurse or Duty SMO.

You do not need to contact ARPHS as part of these processes. Further information on the risk assessment process is available from your DHB.

Information on who should get tested is available from the NRHCC. Additional information for primary care is available from Health Pathways.

Eligibility for testing has changed in phase 3 of the omicron response. Please familiarise yourself with this before advising patients.

In Phase 3 of the Omicron response health care is self-managing return to work for any staff who are household contacts or cases. Staff can return to work early if they are made a case or a household contact, as long as they follow certain criteria.

Guidance is available from the Ministry of Health.

A step-by-step flowchart is also available from Health Pathways to help you manage staff who are cases or household contacts.

Health care practices and services should take extra precautions to reduce the risk of transmission on their premises and minimise potential disruption for staff and patients.

Key areas to consider as part of your prevention plan should include:

  1. Asymptomatic surveillance swabbing as well as symptomatic swabbing should always be undertaken in the red stream with appropriate PPE.

More guidance is available from the Ministry of Health.

  1. Medical masking of all staff (including non-clinical) is important to protect staff from inadvertent COVID-19 exposure - from patients or from other staff who may have acquired COVID-19 in the community.

Reception staff are often the first point of contact for patients and visitors to the practice and can sometimes have prolonged interactions with patients, helping people fill in forms, etc.

There is increasing emphasis on wearing a ‘well-fitting’ mask. The fit of a medical mask can be improved in various ways (e.g. knotting the ear loops and tucking in the sides of the mask to reduce the ‘gaps’ in the front of the ears. See further ‘Improve how your mask protects you’).

Medical masks must be discarded once wet/soiled.

 

  1. Staff breaks / mealtimes are key occasions when exposure can happen someone becomes a case and has worked during their infectious period.

People take their masks off at mealtime, may not be distanced and often spend more than 15 minutes together. Some practices have been asking staff who are not fully vaccinated to have staggered meal breaks, or go outside for meal breaks, and limit these to 15 minutes.

COVID safe requirements are set out in the IPC guidelines from the Ministry of Health. Other areas to consider include:

  • Diligent use of PPE by anyone on site, including staff, contractors and patients
  • Social distancing of at least 1.5m between patients, between staff, and between patients and staff where possible
  • Encouraging working from home where possible and virtual patient consultations
  • Encouraging high risk activities (such as eating/drinking/socialising) to take place outdoors where possible
  • Maximising the use of indoor ventilation or air cleaning units
  • Maintaining regular cleaning on your premises and encouraging anyone on site to follow COVID safe practices around hand-washing and sanitising.

You can also advise your employees that if they get COVID-19 they should alert their line manager as soon as they are notified. They should do this before entering information into the COVID-19 self-service portal. This is because advice for critical healthcare staff is different to other members of the general public and it will be important to support your staff with any isolation or testing required to avoid disruption of your service. This will also mean you know about the exposure event much more quickly, as there may be some delay in public health or the Ministry of Health notifying your practice/service.

You can use the Ministry of Health’s Risk Assessment Preparation Template to support your planning.

Information on how to access and use RATs is available from the Ministry of Health.

In the Omicron response practices and services are required to self-manage exposure events and COVID-19 outbreaks on their premises.

Guidance to support you is available from the Ministry of Health. This includes a risk assessment template and templates for recording staff and/or patients who are contacts.

If you need further advice contact the following as appropriate:

  • Your PHO
  • Your DHB contracting manager
  • Occupational Health

At this time Public Health Units are focused on managing outbreaks in high risk setting and critical services. Public health advice will be sought via one of the above if it is necessary.

Other healthcare services that are not defined as critical should use the Ministry of Health’s general guidance for workplaces on exposure events. This is because these services cannot apply the critical healthcare worker case and contact isolation guidance.

Last updated 22.2.2022

For health advice call Healthline for free anytime on 0800 611 116
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