COVID-19: Urgent alterations underway as Auckland hospitals' negative pressure rooms near capacity

By Rowan Quinn of RNZ

Urgent building work is underway at Auckland City Hospital to prepare more room for COVID-19 patients.

There were 32 patients in hospitals across the region on Tuesday, 18 of whom were in Middlemore, 12 at Auckland City and two at North Shore.

RNZ understands both Auckland City and Middlemore are near - or at - capacity for the vital negative pressure rooms that help prevent the spread.

Builders were making alterations to an Auckland City Hospital ward on Tuesday.

Auckland's three district health boards worked together and shared resources for the COVID-19 response. All COVID-19 patients in the city were currently being cared for in negative pressure rooms, a spokesperson said.

Work was underway to prepare more space if the negative pressure rooms were not available, she said.

"As part of our surge plans, and in line with Ministry of Health guidance, we are also preparing separate, well-ventilated spaces and wards that have been identified as being suitable for isolating COVID-19 patients."

Those were most likely to be used when patients had become less infected, the spokesperson said.

There are 17 negative pressure rooms at Middlemore, but the Ministry of Health said there were 18 patients there on Tuesday.

At Auckland City Hospital, there are 13 negative pressure rooms, and 12 patients.

The DHBs said there was more capacity across the region if required, including eight negative pressure rooms at North Shore Hospital.

The three DHBs met several times a day to coordinate the care of the patients across the region, she said.