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A challenging time for Whitianga Continuing Care

The days been 28 January and February 8 were extremely sad and stressful for the small continuing care home in Buffalo Beach Road Whitianga.
 |  Stan Stewart  | 
Whitianga Continuing Care
Whitianga’s Oceana care centre and village is now calm after the influenza storm.

Six of the 44 residents in this aged care residential facility died, during an outbreak of the flu like symptoms in this brief period of time. It was not covid. Every resident with the flu symptoms was tested and all the tests were negative.

The property is owned and operated by Oceania Healthcare. There are 44 Oceania Homes of this kind across New Zealand and this very sad turn of events has not occurred in any of their other facilities.

The Informer contacted their Group General Manager Sales and Service, Anita Hawthorne. “We are very relieved and satisfied that the facility is now all clear, with no symptoms reported with any residents.”

Whata Ora’s report stated that from 8 February, no more residents had presented with flu symptoms and no resident or staff member is currently in hospital with influenza.

From the time the first resident was identified with influenza type symptoms, the facility went into a pre-determined plan to manage such an outbreak. The Public Health service was immediately notified, and the Care Centre and Village were placed in lockdown requiring staff to wear PPE gear.

Family and friends of the residents were notified of the situation and some residents opted to return to family homes during the lockdown.

The small facility in a very beautiful location on the beach front of Whitianga had been in crisis for those days. Many staff working at the facility also contracted influenza.

In total, 28 staff and residents had suffered from influenza during the period of the outbreak. Approximately 50 staff, including registered nurses and healthcare workers, alongside cleaners and kitchen staff, work at Whitianga Care Centre and Village.

One of the local staff spoke with The Informer.

“Coping required the shared effort of everyone during this trying time. The outbreak greatly increased the workload for nursing, kitchen staff and others particularly when several staff members contracted the influenza.

“Residents who were well, were anxious and worried for themselves and their friends.

“In the end, we managed well because everyone pulled their weight and more.

“Obviously, it was a tiring time but there were no complaints. The work of care and support of the Home had to go on. Because of hard work and shared effort, all bases were covered.”

Staff commented that the relatives of the deceased were most understanding and helpful. Their cooperation in this sad time was very much appreciated.

At the time of writing, Thursday, 15 February, the Continuing Care home is once again a calm and beautiful community.

Visiting is as normal and residents are moving around as before – a welcome calm after the influenza storm.

Anita, was confident that the local community need no longer be concerned but was clear that any members of  the community intending to visit friends and family there, must be very sure they do not have any symptoms of flu or are feeling unwell, when they do.