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No-one is safe from, or immune to, this disease

Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020

The preparation and systems we've put in place to respond to Coronavirus, including the admission of our first patient, are working very effectively.

Late last week a community member with the virus was admitted to our Warrnambool Base Hospital through a planned entry and screening in the emergency department, while a sixth person screened positive for the virus at our offsite respiratory assessment clinic.

CEO Craig Fraser says he’s very proud with the care and calm our workforce is providing. The patient in hospital is progressing well while the positive-screened people with mild symptoms are comfortably recovering in self-seclusion. All have recently returned from overseas.

Staff in our emergency and intensive care units are now wearing masks and while Craig says there’s currently no need for other areas to do the same, over time SWH may move in this direction if the situation changes. ‘I’m aware that other hospitals may be wearing masks differently. We’re monitoring this locally to ensure we’re safe, and to preserve stocks. We have an escalation point where this may change,’ he explains.

In other developments:

* New visitor hours commenced yesterday at our Warrnambool Base and Camperdown Hospitals. One visitor per patient per day for one hour, between the hours of 5-7pm, is now being enforced. Merindah Lodge aged care continues to receive no visitors. And all visitors must be aged above 16.

* As of today, all hospital visitors will be screened on entry. This screening includes a questionnaire and temperature testing.

* To screen visitors systematically, access points to SWH facilities are being reduced. As of this morning, the Warrnambool Base Hospital’s underground carpark closed. (Staff with swipe access can still enter.)

* Operating theatres continue to be a day-by-day assessment for emergency and category 1 electives. This will continue to change.

* Community Health and Mental Health Services workers are using telehealth and phones to ‘meet’ with clients when it’s not essential to meet face-to-face.

* Our teams who support local people wishing to stay in their homes (such as the District Nursing Service, Hospital in The Home, Community Palliative Care, and Community Mental Health) are continuing to do the remarkable job they do each and every day.

* Our South West Medical Centre remains open. Please be assured the seating arrangements in its waiting room are well and truly socially-distanced.

Craig has commended staff for continuing to provide high quality and safe care to all members of our local communities. ‘This is a challenging time and it’s great to see positive energy and calm, reassuring attitudes,’ he says.

There are many community messages to reinforce. Keep your hand hygiene up and keep social distancing. Do not come to a hospital, emergency department or GP clinic if you’ve recently returned from overseas and are now feeling unwell, without first ringing ahead. Be kind to our staff. Don’t think Coronavirus isn’t in your community. And don’t think it only targets the elderly. The elderly are tragically dying because of it but, throughout the world, younger people are being infected. It is no different here. Warrnambool-screened people who’ve tested positive have been aged in their 30s-50s. No-one is safe from, or immune to, contracting Coronavirus.

‘We’re very pleased with how the community’s answering the challenge to do the right thing – by everyone – by staying at home, unless it’s essential to go out. This needs to continue. The next 14-21 days are going to be critical for all of us. We cannot afford to be complacent. We need to minimise local transmissions by avoiding contact and following the directions of Premier Daniel Andrews,’ advises Craig.


Page last updated: 15 December 2020

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