Advice for treatment of colds provided as unprecedented demand impacts ED, hospital

Middlemore Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) as well as Urgent Care Clinics and GPs in South Auckland are experiencing unprecedented demand for services with 415 people coming through the ED doors on Monday alone.

Counties Manukau Health has implemented escalation plans to mitigate this pressure however Clinical Director of Middlemore Hospital’s Emergency Department, Vanessa Thornton, says this volume has the potential to impact the hospital throughout the week with a significant proportion of presentations related to winter viruses. 

“Last year, COVID-19 precautions were front of mind for people and as such the number of colds going around was minimal. However, with greater face-to-face contact taking place this year we are seeing a significant upswing in these symptoms.

“We ask people who are experiencing cold-like symptoms to get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, and minimise contact with people where possible. Further advice can be found here.”

With the number of ED presentations for non-emergencies rising, Dr Thornton once again called on the community to support the hospital by seeking the right care for their condition and leaving the ED free for those who need it most. 

“EDs are there primarily to treat those whose condition threatens life or limb, and the impacts of having patients come to ED whose conditions could be treated by a GP or at Urgent Care clinics are having an effect on the patients who really need our help.

“It is important for our community to understand that they don’t need to come to ED for non-emergencies. If you are sick, getting the right care for your condition both helps our hospital and will ensure you are seen and treated more quickly than you would by coming to the ED.”

Advice for self-management of colds

See Ministry of Health’s advice here.

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink lots of fluids such as water.
  • Use a humidifier to increase air moisture, especially in your bedroom.

There are no medicines that cure a cold. Antibiotics only work against bacterial infections, not the viral infections that cause a cold.

However, you can treat your symptoms with medicines such as painkillers, nose drops or sprays, cough syrups and drops, throat lozenges and decongestants (check with your doctor or pharmacist before you take any of these if you’re already taking other medicines).

Please remember, if you have COVID-like symptoms, please stay at home and get tested.  See here for further information.

Where to go for treatment in our community

Most times a GP can provide medical advice and prescriptions to manage acute injuries and illnesses as well as long-term conditions.

Urgent Care clinics provide support for patients who feel unwell outside of regular GP hours or on weekends and public holidays.

These clinics provide free or low cost care for children under 14 years old, adults over 65, and Community Service Card or High User Health Card holders.

Who to contact

If you don’t have a family doctor you can find one on Healthpoint which is an online directory for GPs and also provides information on Accident and Medical clinics.

Health advice also is available 24 hours a day by calling Healthline on 0800 611 116 with the service providing interpreters for non-English speakers.

You can also download the Emergency Q app which has been designed to help users find what services are open, how long you may have to wait and, where appropriate, how much it may cost.

The app, which you can download from the app store or here, is free to use and will help you and your whaanau get the right care from the right place at the right time.

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