CM Health providing national leadership in care of White Island patients

This afternoon CM Health hosted a media conference to provide an update on the current situation regarding patients injured in the White Island volcanic eruption.

The National Burns Unit at Middlemore Hospital is providing national leadership to the National Burns Service, and coordinating the provision of care and supplies to the other hospitals Waikato, Hutt Valley, and Christchurch.

In a statement Dr Pete Watson, Chief Medical Officer with CM Health said “We are now just over 48hrs since the volcanic eruption at White island. Sadly, as you are aware, one person died here at Middlemore hospital overnight. 

“At this time, 29 patients continue to receive care in New Zealand’s intensive care and burns units in Middlemore, Waikato, Hutt Valley and Christchurch hospitals.

“One Australian patient will be transported from Wellington by a New Zealand specialist air ambulance to Australia this evening.  It is likely that more Australians will be transported home by the Australian Defence Force in an intensive care capable aircraft in the next 24 to 48 hours.  This is to enable ongoing treatment of these patients closer to home and their family and support networks.  Of course, this is dependent on patients’ clinical situations and clinicians on both sides of the Tasman are working closely together in making these repatriation decisions.

‘Twenty-two of our burns patients remain in critical condition due to the severity of their burns and require airway support.

‘We currently have stock but are urgently sourcing additional supplies to meet the demand for dressing and temporary skin grafts. We anticipate we will require an additional 1.2million sq cms of skin for the on-going needs of the patients. These supplies are coming from the United States and the order has been placed.

‘The nature of these burns is complicated by the gases and chemicals in the eruption. This has necessitated more rapid surgical treatment of these burns than is the usual case for thermal only burns. As such surgical teams have been working around the clock, non-stop, to expedite the initial surgical treatment of the patients. This is just the start of a very long process that for some patients will last several months.

‘We are working closely with Police, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Victim Support who have now located to Middlemore to ensure joined-up and coordinated support for patients and their families.

‘We want to acknowledge and thank the tremendous efforts provided by hospital intensivists, surgeons, nurses, anaesthetists and others across the country who have worked tirelessly, and will continue to over the days and weeks, and months ahead.

‘We also want to thank our Australian counterparts for their willingness to support and assist in this emergency and in supporting the early return to Australian citizens.”

Issued by: CM Health Communications
Media Line: 09 250 9857

Posted in media release;

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