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Latest SWH developments re COVID-19

Friday, 14 Aug 2020

We continue to work incredibly hard behind-the-scenes in the fight to keep coronavirus at bay. This week we, in particular, want to recognise the amazing work being done by our frontline Rapid Assessment Community Evaluation (RACE) team.

This small group of compassionate and highly-skilled nurses makes daily contact with confirmed COVID patients and close contacts of confirmed cases, including regularly entering the homes of our region’s COVID-positive patients to provide the care and support vital to their recoveries. This work sees them travelling to oversee patients throughout the 12,500 km2 of rural communities we pride ourselves on caring for. Their work of late has, understandably, been mostly in and around Portland and Colac because, as we all know, clusters grow before they slow.

Our inpatient teams in Warrnambool have treated four COVID-positive inpatients in recent times and it’s been wonderful to see these patients improve and return home to their local communities. The teams involved in their treatment have been dedicated to ensuring safe, effective and compassionate care whilst maintaining a calm and positive outlook at all times. Our hospitals in Warrnambool and Camperdown are doing a fantastic job and despite having no confirmed cases in either of these locations, all suspected inpatients remain on PPE precautions until tested and confirmed negative, and all visitors continue to be screened and managed by a small team of committed staff to ensure access is limited to keep everyone as protected as possible.


In line with the rest of the state, non-urgent elective surgery other than Category 1 and urgent Category 2 has been reduced to ensure limited resources are available to respond to potential increasing COVID-positive demand. This includes preserving our limited amount of PPE and frees up some nursing, cleaning, medical and other staff to focus on providing COVID-specific resources to both SWH and across our region. This proactive preparation for possible COVID presentations and hospitalisations also frees up some hospital beds. By reducing elective surgeries, beds become available because they’re not needed for a post-surgery patient’s recovery phase.

As of this coming Monday, we’re implementing an additional precaution already in place in many private hospitals and hot-spot public hospitals where all patients booked for surgery (other than emergency surgery) will be required to have tested negative to coronavirus beforehand. Following their testing they’ll be required to self-isolate until their surgery takes place. This self-isolation will, generally, be for no longer than five days. Our Elective Surgery Clinic will contact all future surgery patients to explain this process, which involves Dorevitch Pathology (located in our Warrnambool Base Hospital) running a surgery-specific asymptomatic screening clinic from 1.30 – 3.30 weekdays. No appointment is required but patients must bring with them a referral from their surgeon.

We remain committed to anyone needing surgery and remind people to get reassessed should their condition worsen. In future months we’ll again focus on increasing access to our theatres but timelines will be fully dependent on where we are, COVID-wise, as a state and a region.


People are loving the short video we’ve produced to show you how to clean and disinfect your home and workplace to help stop the spread of coronavirus. It’s one of 44 videos we’ve produced during this pandemic, sharing and showcasing the knowledge, passion and expertise our workforce possesses. If you haven’t seen it yet here it is

And a big shout out to our committed, often hidden, support services staff who’ve done a huge amount of work to do extra cleaning and ensure we always have a safe and clean environment.


Warrnambool has two symptomatic screening clinics. Both are by appointment only. You can call ours on 5563 1666 or the Great South Coast Respiratory Clinic on 0428 606 397.

Over the past week (from August 7) we’ve screened another 319 people for coronavirus, taking our total screenings to 8,270:

260> Symptomatic patients screened at our Warrnambool Respiratory Assessment Clinic (4,769 to date)

30> Symptomatic patients screened at our Warrnambool Base Hospital emergency department (576 to date)

0> Symptomatic patient screened at our Camperdown Hospital urgent care centre (13 to date)

29> Symptomatic inpatients screened in our Warrnambool Base Hospital, Camperdown Hospital/Merindah Lodge (478 to date)

0> DHHS-directed asymptomatic screenings by our Warrnambool Respiratory Assessment Clinic during community and staff screening clinics (2,259 to date)

0> DHHS-directed asymptomatic screenings at our Camperdown Hospital during community and staff screening clinics (175 to date)


  • Our communities are doing a great job at reducing their contacts and this is extremely evident in the very few cases we have. Everyone knows what to do so stick at it!
  • Stay home and get tested if you have symptoms of coronavirus (no matter how mild your symptoms are). Symptoms include fever, chills, a cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, and loss of sense of smell or taste.
  • Go home straight after your test and self-isolate while you wait for your results. Do not go to work.
  • Asymptomatic screenings: These mass screenings are directed by the Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS). No asymptomatic screening clinics are currently being provided by SWH. When this changes you’ll hear it first by following us on Facebook at SWHnews
  • Visitors to our SWH facilities: Information in relation to visitor hours and other visitor criteria is kept updated on the homepage of our website at
  • SWH COVID-19 MENTAL HEALTH & WELLBEING SUPPORT LINE: Call 1800 965 144 between 1-5pm Monday-Friday to speak with one of our qualified SWH professionals. This support line offers non-judgmental listening services to local people in our Corangamite, Moyne, Southern Grampians, Glenelg and Warrnambool communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • It’s important for any patient to be reassessed if they’re deteriorating as there is a categorisation process for having elective surgery and this is dependent on clinical assessment. Keep an eye on your loved ones awaiting elective surgery and make sure they’re seeing their GP and specialist/s as needed.

Page last updated: 15 December 2020

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