Hospital visiting guidelines updated 20 July 2022: Hospital visitors must wear a surgical/medical paper mask. Fabric face coverings are no longer acceptable. See our COVID-19 pages for detailed information about hospital visiting guidelinesCOVID-19 tests and care in the community advice. See for information about vaccinations.

We are at ORANGE according to the NZ COVID-19 Protection Framework

Last updated:
9th April 2022

  • For visitors to all facilities effective from Wednesday 20 July 2022With the recent resurgence in cases in Canterbury, largely due to the Omicron BA.5 subvariant we are seeing an increase in demand right across the health system. Presentations to our Christchurch ED and Ashburton’s AAU are higher than ever and admission rates are high, which means we have a shortage of resourced beds.Recently, we have seen too many unwell people coming to visit someone in hospital and too many that cannot or will not wear a medical mask. This increases the risk to vulnerable people in hospital. For these reasons we need to everything we can to minimise these risks.We have therefore tightened visitor restrictions for all Te Whatu Ora Waitaha Canterbury hospitals and health facilities.

    Kia whakahaumaru te whānau, me ngā iwi katoa – this is to keep everybody safe:

    • One visitor per patient in the hospital at any given time, except where stated otherwise in the ‘exceptions’ section below.
    • No visitors under 16 to any part of our facilities.
    • No visitors to COVID +ve patients other than in exceptional circumstances.
    • No eating or drinking at the bedside or anywhere other than cafes or areas designated for eating/drinking, as taking your mask off puts patients at risk.
    • Visitors or support people must not visit our facilities if they are unwell with cold or flu-like symptoms (even if they have tested negative) or have had a recent tummy bug.
    • Do not visit if you are COVID +ve or a household contact of someone who has tested positive
    • Surgical/medical masks must be worn at all times at all sites and will be provided if people don’t have them. Mask exemptions do not apply in our facilities – people who cannot tolerate a mask cannot visit at this time.
    • Hand sanitiser stations are visible and must be used.

    By sticking to the rules above, you help keep our patients, staff, other visitors and yourself safe. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding as our staff work hard to protect and care for some of the most vulnerable in our community.

    Exceptions to the ‘one visitor’ policy

    • Exceptions can apply in some circumstances where trusted whānau members provide assistance, reassurance and other support for therapeutic care or on compassionate grounds – please talk to the ward’s Charge Nurse to discuss this before you come to hospital to visit. For whānau with an essential support role as a Partner in Care – again, please check with the ward’s Charge Nurse before you come to hospital to visit.
    • People attending Christchurch ED or Ashburton AAU can have one support person with them.
    • Women in labour and in the birthing suite can have two named support people + their community LMC/midwife if they have one – for the duration of the birth only. All other women on the Maternity Ward are allowed one support person for the duration of their stay in our facilities at Christchurch Women’s Hospital and other maternity units. Only one support person can be with each woman in the maternity ward, and one support person for maternity clinic appointments. No under 16s are allowed to visit or attend appointments.
    • Parents/caregivers can be with their baby in NICU.
    • Parents/caregivers are able to be with their child in hospital (Except Children’s Haematology and Oncology Day patients where only one parent or caregiver is permitted).
    • People requiring support when attending an appointment can have one support person. Please let the relevant service know if you need this so they are able to accommodate your request.

    Visiting patients with COVID-19

    • To avoid them becoming infected with COVID-19 and passing it one, visitors to COVID-19 positive patients will not be allowed except in extenuating circumstances – by prior agreement with the Charge Nurse Manager only, and wearing an N95 mask.
    • Other methods of communication will be facilitated e.g. phone, facetime, zoom etc.

    You must NOT visit the hospital if you

    • are a household contact of a COVID-19 positive case
    • are COVID-19 positive
    • Have a cold or flu/COVID-19-like symptoms (even if you are testing negative for COVID-19)

    Exceptions for people with disabilities

    An exception will be made for people with disabilities who are in hospital or have to attend an outpatient appointment – where they need a support person to access health services. For example, a sign language interpreter, support person for someone with a learning disability, or someone to assist with mobility. The support person is in addition to the one permitted visitor.

    Everyone visiting our facilities must wear a mask, no exceptions

    While we appreciate that some people have legitimate reasons for being exempt from wearing a mask and may even have an official card to confirm this, people who cannot or will not wear a mask cannot visit someone in hospital or attend hospital, other than to access healthcare. This is another measure to minimise the risk to vulnerable patients.

    Patients and visitors should also read the additional more detailed visiting guidelines for each specific hospital.

    More COVID-19 information

Autopsy Examinations

What is an autopsy?

An autopsy is a medical procedure where a specially trained doctor, called a pathologist, examines the body to answer questions about why and how the person died. The pathologist examines the outside of the body, and then examines the internal organs using an incision similar to a large surgery. Tiny samples of major organs are examined under the microscope. Depending on the circumstances, small samples of blood and other body fluids may be sent for testing.

Why is an autopsy necessary?

The primary reason to perform an autopsy is to determine how a person died. However, even if the cause of death appears to be obvious, an autopsy can help confirm that nothing else happened to the person, and to look for anything that would aid in figuring out or confirming the circumstances around the death.

What is a lesser post-mortem?

Often, a full autopsy is necessary to answer important questions about a coroner case, but under some circumstances, the pathologist may agree to or recommend a lesser post-mortem. A lesser post-mortem involves an external examination of the body, combined with possibly a CT scan and/or toxicology testing. In cases where the death is almost certainly natural, but injury or drug toxicity need to be ruled out, and in cases where cultural or religious considerations are important to the whanau, a lesser post-mortem may be an appropriate way to determined how someone died or to rule out other possibilities of concern. The coroner will request the opinion of the pathologist and will make a decision on the scope of examination. In cases where the death is considered potentially suspicious, a full autopsy will be necessary.

Why is the cause of death ‘pending’?

The pathologist provides their initial findings to the coroner right after the autopsy examination, but if the cause of death is not yet obvious and will require further testing, such as toxicology, then the cause of death may be given as ‘pending’. Usually, the cause of death will become known once the results of those tests are available, and the next of kin is typically informed by staff at the coroner’s office once the final autopsy report has been completed and submitted to the coroner.

How long does it take to complete an autopsy?

Most straightforward autopsies can be completed within a couple of hours. For more complex cases, such as homicides, the examination may take most of the day. However, in most cases, the body is returned to the family within a few hours, once the body is officially released by the coroner.

Can the body be viewed after an autopsy?

Yes, if the body was originally in a viewable state, a body can still be viewed after an autopsy is completed. Once the autopsy is finished, the organs are returned to the body and the incision is sutured back together (stitched up). The exam is completed in such a way that if the body is dressed, you will not be able to tell that they have had an autopsy. If you wish to view the body unclothed, the incision will look like a large surgery. The head retains its normal shape. The autopsy technicians who restore the body after the autopsy take great care to make the body as close to its original state as possible, and the funeral director will complete any further necessary adjustments to make sure the body is viewable.