Hospital expands COVID care
BENDIGO Health will begin treating COVID-19 patients from across regional and rural Victoria after being designated as a COVID-19 streaming hospital last week.
The new arrangement was made ahead of the State Government’s plan to ease restrictions in line with vaccination rates in the coming months.
“With that will come an increase in COVID case prevalence and… increased need for hospitalisation,” said Bendigo Health CEO Peter Faulkner.
“Our role is to support the Loddon Mallee region and other parts of regional and rural Victoria to provide hospital care for any COVID positive patients that require it.”
Mr Faulkner said the designation would mean Bendigo Health was building on its role as the key health provider for the region.
He said a peak case load of COVID-19 patients was expected to occur in late October and December and the hospital was as prepared as possible to care for more admissions with the disease.
“It’s very difficult to predict all the variables, obviously staff supply is an issue, staff are not insulated from the pandemic so that’s a bit of an uncertainty, but we are as prepared as we can possibly be,” he said.
“We’ve done everything we can to ensure that our community will be kept as safe as we can possibly keep them, that our hospital is absolutely prepared to manage COVID positive patients as we did last year. This is not new to us.”
As of mid-last week Bendigo Health was treating four COVID-19 positive patients from a mix of locations in a dedicated ward.
The hospital is prepared to reduce less urgent services to make more staff available for COVID-19 patients if demand was to rise.
That could include deferring non-urgent surgeries, which make up about 25 per cent of the hospital’s total procedures.
Changes have also been made to the hospital’s emergency department where two streams now separate patients with respiratory issues from all other attendees.
“Where COVID positive patients are streamed into the hospital, we have dedicated separate paths of transfer, so they don’t move in the same place as other patients or staff,” Mr Faulkner said.
“Doing all of those things really just maximises safety and reduces the risk of transmission.”