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Security review: A new intercom system's one of the additional safety measure being implemented at Lakes District Hospital

By MATTHEW MCKEW

Security is being upped at Queenstown’s Lakes District Hospital because of the ‘‘huge’’ numbers showing up off their faces on drugs and booze.

Papers released last week by Southern District Health Board reveal ‘‘security issues persist at Lakes ED’’ and security guards were posted on the doors over the Christmas and New Year period to combat problems.

‘‘This was really helpful, especially with the huge numbers of people presenting to ED affected by alcohol and drugs, particularly during Rhythm and Alps,’’ the papers say.

Queenstown sergeant Simon Matheson says it’s not unusual for police to attend the hospital.

That said, he doesn’t believe there’s be an increased presence in recent months.

He also says police weren’t required there over the weekend of Rhythm and Alps, but Wanaka officers attended the festival itself.

In December, Mountain Scene revealed Queenstown was the MDMA (ecstasy) capital of New Zealand, after police found sky-high concentrations in wastewater.

Although other areas of the country found larger quantities, per person Queenstown was the worst.

Police were further concerned by the number of spiked drugs they found with deadly cuts of bathsalts.

Queenstown’s emergency department had a busy year in 2020, despite the border closures, hospital boss Debi Lawry says , in part thanks to those drinking to excess or taking drugs.

The DHB papers also reveal a man had been showering on hospital grounds and threatening staff on ‘‘numerous occasions’’ despite being issued a trespass order.

Lawry says he’s receiving treatment and will meet with a new medical social worker employed at the hospital.

But the hospital’s still going through a security review, and an intercom system’s been installed at the main entrance to improve staff safety.

Lawry says the hospital works closely with police and logs all security breaches with a South Island-wide risk management system.

Meantime, cops were called to Queenstown’s emergency department last Friday morning after a ‘‘disorder incident’’ which resulted in a man being issued with a trespass notice.

A police spokeswoman says he was also given a verbal warning, but they refused to give further details.

matthew.mckew@scene.co.nz