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No vax, no entry

From January 1 visitors to Beetham Healthcare need to be fully vaccinated and provide proof otherwise they won't be able to go inside the premises.

“Even if you own the place and you're not vaccinated, you're not able to come on site”, Beetham Healthcare Limited general manager Diane Bell says.

Their primary responsibility was the duty of care for the residents and the prevention of forseeable harm, she said.

“I am really clear about one thing — this a vulnerable community and if I am letting unvaccinated people in here which potentially could cause premature deaths of some of our residents . . . I can't have that.”

Ms Bell said they had applied the mandate under the Public Health Order, which was extended from employees to everyone by Hauora Tairāwhiti.

“Here at Beetham Healthcare we have 48 beds and we are a small facility. Under the applied vaccine mandate issued in the Public Health Order, staff only had to have one dose by 11.59pm last night and all our staff are fully vaccinated here.

“Hauora Tairāwhiti has extended that mandate from staff to volunteers, contractors and tradies (electrician, plumbers etc), so nobody coming on site at the moment in that capacity is unvaccinated.

“From January 1, 2022, vistors, friends, family and whānau of our residents have all been told that they need to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of that or otherwise they won't be able to come inside.

“I don't know if anybody else is doing that but we are and it may make a difference to who wants to come here because there are people with very firm views.”

Ms Bell said three residents in the healthcare facility had declined to get the Covid-19 vaccination.

“We are going to accept and admit unvaccinated people (as patients in the care facility) in the future because those people need to go somewhere. We can't just refuse them care with nowhere else to go.”

Ms Bell said one staff member left Beetham because they did not want to get vaccinated, which was “unfortunate because they were great”.

“We haven't had much pushback from telling visitors they must be vaccinated. Hauora Tairāwhiti has supported this step because we know we will get Covid-19 in Gisborne.

“I have always told the staff, when it comes, it's going to walk through the front door.”

Ms Bell said the facility was used to lockdown measures due to the Norovirus.

“Every two years Gisborne rest homes get Norovirus, which causes a really bad vomiting and diarrhoea condition, so we are used to going into lockdowns and taking precautions,” she said.

“We have actually had someone die from it because when they were vomiting, they swallowed some of the vomit and it went into their lungs. As a result they got pneumonia and then died.

“Covid-19 is going to be far worse than that.”

Ms Bell said the decision-making process for the vaccination requirement had the full support of residents.

“It is the residents' home so it was about getting them to decide as well.

“For Beetham village itself, we didn't need a mandate. It is their home. We can't tell them what to do or force them.

“Most of the residents are in that vulnerable age category, so they are very very aware of Covid-19 and its impact if they get it.

“I think there's probably only one or two people who haven't been vaccinated. With our community centre (called The Lodge), the residents have to be vaccinated if they want to go in there and they will need to provide proof of vaccination.”

About 240 people live in the village.

DUTY OF CARE: Beetham Healthcare Ltd general manager Diane Bell says 'duty of care' for their residents comes first. From left are Beetham Healthcare's Lynne Chaffey (administration/reception), Sandy Armstrong (clinical manager), Ms Bell, Shelagh West (clinical manager) and Margaret Blake (quality and HR manager). Picture By Paul Rickard.