Rowan Plater: Nurse Manager, City Medical Napier

City Medical Nurse Manager Rowan Plater was instrumental in coordinating the medical hub for Napier residents cut off from the region’s hospital after Cyclone Gabrielle.

He’s been leading the nursing team providing urgent care at the facility since 2019 and has 24 years of Emergency Department (ED) Nursing experience in the United Kingdom, Tauranga and Hawke’s Bay.

Having been involved in disaster planning and had exposure to major events such as the Buncefield blast in the UK, Rowan had a relevant skill set for the situation on 14th February. On that morning, he made his way to work and started redesignating areas.

“Triage was the key – we didn’t know how things would pan out so putting our most senior nurses right at the front of house was essential, especially as other services set up in the healthcentre and made themselves available for warm handover from our staff and for walk-ins.”

Space was redisgnated to make room for an ED, outpatient clinics were transformed into a ward and Intensive Care, and even the cafe area was set aside for wet, cold and well people.

A large number of Napier-based Te Whatu Ora– Health New Zealand staff and general practice clinicians who were trapped in Napier arrived to offer assistance and a roster was quickly established which fed into a rapidly evolving model of care for the “Napier ED” over the following days.

Rowan said the range of skills and specialties, representing all disciplines enabled quick decision making.

“We saw a fairly typical volume of patients for City Medical, but the acuity of the conditions was higher. Minor ailments were re-directed to the Munroe St practice where they were treated by our usual GPs. Some of our staff trapped in Hastings also contributed to the rosters at Hastings Health Centre and in ED.”

Rowan said it was of enormous value to have Napier-based Te Whatu Ora senior management coordinating the wider Napier response through the emergency operations centre which he fed into.

“In the circumstances, City Medical did well to work with Te Whatu Ora and primary care staff to stand up an ED in Napier on no notice without external comms and limited resources”.

Rowan believes the emergency health response was a success in Napier because it was a true team effort.

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