Star Story 3 - Performing all urgent Wellington surgeries

Our Star Stories celebrate the many ways our teams around the country have risen to the challenges of 2020.

The first reaction Jackey Marriott (General Manager of Southern Cross Wellington Hospital) had when New Zealand proposed the pandemic lockdown in March 2020, was to offer Southern Cross facilities and expertise to the local Capital and Coast District Health Board (CCDHB). The two organisations already had a close working relationship with Southern Cross Wellington Hospital fulfilling CCDHB public surgical contracts for 15 years.

Doctors in Wellington, many of whom work in both facilities, fast tracked meetings and approval so that CCDHB premises were immediately classified as exclusively available for potential COVID patients. Meanwhile, Southern Cross Wellington Hospital was labelled ‘clean’; and continued performing surgery on over 100 symptom-free DHB patients with urgent cases that couldn’t be deferred 12 weeks.

One CCDHB patient stands out for Jackey - a highly anxious Pacific Island man, in his 70’s, with limited English, who was in considerable pain and scheduled for urology surgery. His daughter was very upset when, due to Ministry of Health guidelines, she could not accompany her father into the hospital. The admission nurse Barbara Kolacznki initially spoke with the daughter outside, assuring her we would look after her dad very carefully. As the gentleman’s anxiety increased Barbara advocated for the gentleman to be joined by his daughter. Jackey explained ‘although his daughter introduced a new risk, this was minimised with personal protective equipment and safe distancing; which in this case was the right decision.’

Jackey couldn’t be prouder of her team who, against the backdrop of lockdown, continued to come to work to put the health of patients first.