‘We are yet to see a significant outbreak in the Southern Grampians, but we need to remain vigilant to keep it that way’.
That’s the message from WDHS Chief Executive, Rohan Fitzgerald.
More than 150,000 people without symptoms were tested in Victoria over the past two weeks, with a further 150,000 tests planned by the end of May. The additional testing is providing critical information on the likely risk of ‘hidden’ cases in the community.
‘The results so far have given the government confidence to ease the first layer of restrictions this week, but this is not a green light for the community to resume all normal activities’, warned Mr Fitzgerald.
‘The risk of a localised outbreak remains, as we have seen with the recent Cedar Meats and Fawkner McDonalds clusters.’
The most recent modelling released by the Department of Health and Human Services says that an outbreak in the region could result in up to 6%, or 672 people needing hospitalisation, with around a third of these requiring ICU admission.
‘While this modelling is less catastrophic than what we were looking at in the early days of the pandemic, it would still have a devastating impact on our community if it were to eventuate.’
‘We are enormously grateful to our community for their willingness to step up and adhere to government advice around staying home. It has bought us time, but we need to continue to adhere to strict physical distancing and hygiene guidelines and to stay at home as much as possible.
Importantly over the last few months, the hospital has taken the opportunity to train staff to respond in a COVID-19 environment, put in place infection control strategies to reduce the risk of the disease spreading in our organisation, implement structural changes across the Health Service to support safer practices and critically communicated with our community about how they can keep themselves and others safe.
We ask that you be patient with the lifting of restrictions. A slow and gradual return to ‘normal’, will allow us to monitor and contain the situation as we go.
As we make an assessment about our visitor restrictions, we have engaged a team of Customer Service Officers to help facilitate communication between patients, residents, and their families, with a number of new iPads making it easier to communicate via video.
‘We understand how challenging this situation is for families, said Mr Fitzgerald, but it is critical that we minimise any risk to patients, staff, and especially our aged care residents. ‘By staying apart, we are keeping together.’