Christchurch, March 22, 2019
Twenty-seven of the people who were injured in Friday’s (March 15, 2019) shootings are still in Christchurch Hospital, with five remaining in critical condition in intensive care.
Two more have been discharged during the past 24 hours. They are still our priority for specialist care, which for some includes follow-up surgery and other specialist care. Considering that at this time a week ago we were caring for 48 patients, it is a huge positive that this number has been so significantly reduced, recognising of course that many of those well enough to be discharged over the past week will still need care and support in the community.
A four-year old girl is still in a critical condition in Starship Hospital in Auckland and her father is in a stable condition in nearby Auckland City Hospital.
As previously, much of our planned surgery for Friday was postponed to free up theatre space and surgical teams. Anyone affected by rescheduling has been contacted individually to let them know and make a new time if possible.
Christchurch Hospital remains very busy and our Emergency Department in particular typically sees an increase in presentations at weekends and this puts additional strain on our staff resources.
Please help us focus on providing the best possible care for acutely unwell patients by calling your General Practice team first unless it’s an emergency.
You can ring your normal GP team’s number any time of day or night, and after hours a nurse will advise you what to do and where to go if it is urgent and you need to be seen.
Grief and Compassion
Today has been yet another big day for our New Zealand community and especially for Christchurch. It was very moving to see so much shared grief and compassion as people gathered to show support and respect for our Muslim community at this afternoon’s call to prayer across from the Al Noor Masjid Mosque in Christchurch today.
It is the kind of compassionate response we have come to expect from Canterbury people and showed that as New Zealanders we stand together when it counts most.
We would like to acknowledge at this time the support we have received from throughout New Zealand and across the world.
Thank you all for your kindness and generosity, it’s been hugely appreciated.
]For health workers whose duties wouldn’t allow them to get to the call to prayer, staff at all Canterbury DHB sites were encouraged to observe the two minutes silence instead. That small gesture too was an emotional and cathartic experience for many of us who continue to see first-hand the anguish of the families of the people who have been hurt.
Good Mental Wellbeing
Coping after such a hugely traumatic event isn’t easy. Good mental wellbeing helps us carry on and deal with all that life throws at us. Our body’s reaction to shock is to produce adrenaline, it’s our natural alarm system for making us alert and ready for action.
Afterwards though we can feel shaky, queasy or on-edge, and we may find it harder than usual to concentrate or keep things in their proper perspective.
It can also result in strong emotional responses such as anger or crying.
This is normal and we can help soften these effects by doing some light physical activity, taking on a small chore or task and by focusing on some calm breathing for 10 seconds.
It is also a good idea to take a break from the news and social media so you can focus on other things and the people around you – doing so does not make what has happened any less shocking but it can help you calm your nerves.
It is also a great idea to make a special effort to connect with friends and loved ones during these tough times.
Specialist Mental Health Services are part of our whole system health response to the mental trauma caused by events that affect our whole community, we still have a presence in the community centre close to the hospital and are responding to the needs of the people using the centre.
Other health agencies are transitioning in to the centre and SMHS staff are transitioning out. We are also working closely with local communities and through a number of agencies who are working closely together to meet the needs of those affected by the terrible events of last Friday and there are a range of resources and supports now available. One good place to get up to date information is HealthInfo
HealthInfo is a health information website for the general public, with information and advice specific to Canterbury written by local doctors, practice nurses, hospital clinicians and other healthcare professionals.
The website has a mix of health information, including factsheets on different topics and descriptions of local health services and supports. It also has links to recommended websites for further reading and research.
The HealthInfo information relating to the terror attack is being updated regularly and includes a broad range of information including income support.
Another useful website is Victim Support Coping after the Christchurch mosques terrorist attacks
Please check these sites regularly for updates.
Anyone who needs additional support can call or text 1737 to speak with a trained counsellor. This service is free of charge and is available day and night.
People can also visit the All right? website which is constantly being updated with best practice wellbeing advice.
There are also resources available online:
Ministry of Health resource – Coping after a traumatic event
Mental Health Education and Resource Centre – Helping children cope
If you want to talk to a trained counsellor, you can phone or text 1737 to be put through to a counsellor any time of the day or night. This is a free service for everyone.
David Meates is Chief Executive, Canterbury District Health Board based in Christchurch