Acting general manager of Nelson Bays Primary Health Services Charlotte Etheridge has been on the frontlines since the outbreak of Covid-19. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Nelson’s frontline against Covid-19

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Covid-19 threw all of us into uncharted territory, but our health workers have gone beyond the call of duty in the battle against the virus.

Just five days after New Zealand closed its borders, Community Assessment Centres were established and fully operational in Nelson, Motueka and Tahunanui.

Charlotte Etheridge has been at the forefront of Nelson’s response to the pandemic at the old Suburban Club on Tahuna Drive.

The acting general manager of Nelson Bays Primary Health Services has had just two days off in the past seven weeks but says it has been an amazing experience.

“It has been some long days, but it has to get done, the priority is the health and well-being of our community which has been at the forefront of my mind.”

Charlotte says the long hours and constant change has become the new normal and it has been an ongoing challenge to keep up with the variant demand.

“It really fluctuates so we can’t plan perfectly but we can scale up and down dependent on what the demand is, we plan for the worst but expect the best.”

Charlotte believes strong communication has been an invaluable weapon.

“It’s a moving beast and it’s about being reactive to change, we have over 160 people in employment and it’s important that we are keeping everyone up to date.”

She says a focus of the CAC was to ease the anxiety of patients.

They have also carried out mobile swabbing for patients unable to access the CAC’s.

She says working alongside a range of health of organisations such as Nelson Marlborough Health and the Marlborough Primary Health Organisation, has helped them combat the crisis collectively.

“It has been a great collaborative approach, the team here has adjusted really well, Kathy O’Malley at the DHB has been wonderful, I take my hat off to her.”

Nelson’s last confirmed case of Covid-19 was way back on April 3.

As of Monday, there were only three active cases of the virus, with 45 people having recovered.

“It has been a real honour to be a part of the fight against covid in our region, we have been really successful.