Barwon Health implements Code Brown procedures

January 20, 2022 BY

Barwon Health sites have implemented "Code Brown" procedures to offset the effects of staff shortages and increasing cases amid the state's Omicron wave. Photo: SUPPLIED

A CODE Brown management plan announced by the Victorian government earlier this week is now in effect across Barwon Health’s sites as Victoria continues to battle the global Omicron outbreak.

A co-ordinated approach to activating the Code Brown response plan is necessary to help health services work together rather than in isolation in the face of overwhelming demand.

Barwon Health chief executive Frances Diver said Barwon Health implemented plans at noon yesterday (Wednesday, January 19) in Geelong and across the Barwon South West region to respond to community needs for care.

Changes to cope with staff shortages and the high influx of patients included “the redeployment of staff, scaling back some services and deferring some elective services”, Mr Diver said.

“Public and private hospital services across the region are working together effectively as
one system.”

Sites as far away as Warrnambool are working with Barwon Health as a cohesive unit to best handle struggling sectors of the network west of Melbourne.

“University Hospital Geelong had yesterday opened a third ward dedicated to the care of COVID-19 patients.

“Warrnambool Base Hospital (operated by South West HealthCare) and Hamilton Base Hospital (operated by Western District Health Service) will also be accepting some COVID positive admissions.”

Barwon Health and its workforce will continue to have responsibility for clinical and operational decisions that affect their patients and communities.

These decisions include how to manage internal patient flow within a health service as well as the assessment, treatment, and referral of patients.

“Our hardworking health workers on the front-line are caring for record numbers of coronavirus patients every day, this is the best way to ensure our hospitals can continue to safely care for those that need it most,” Acting Minister for Health James Merlino said.

“Our health services will have to make some hard decisions over the next few weeks to manage increasing demand and I thank every single one of them for making the tough calls necessary to help as many Victorians as they can.”

There will also be an expansion of COVID streaming sites to increase the number of hospitals caring for coronavirus patients, therefore easing the pressure at hospitals currently handling the most patients.

A new Health Service Response Centre will be established by the Department of Health to help hospitals distribute patients more fluidly, distribute activity and support decisions around service reconfiguration.

Health officials will monitor the situation to determine when it is safe to begin winding down arrangements.

The Victorian Government expects the Code Brown to last four to six weeks.