PROMINENT Mount Gambier orthopaedic surgeon Barney McCusker says the war against the coronavirus is far from over and the regional community must rally behind government restrictions.
Standing outside Mount Gambier Hospital yesterday, Mr McCusker swung his support behind measures being swept in by the Limestone Coast Local Health Network.
These measures include the suspension of elective surgery in a move to free up beds and resources ahead of a potential influx of COVID-19 patients.
“The community is in very safe hands with Dr Elaine Pretorius and Ngaire Buchanan. They are leading this very, very well – they are safe hands,” Mr McCusker said.
He said the cancellation of elective surgery until further notice was supported without hesitation by surgeons.
“There also has not been one patient – who has had their elective surgery cancelled – who has objected,” said Mr McCusker, who revealed he had suspended up to 30 scheduled elective surgeries.
“They understand the need for this perfectly. While it is an inconvenience, they get to go home, isolate and stay safe.”
But he said category one emergencies would continue such as broken limbs and hips or a large laceration.
He said it was critical a high percentage of the regional population isolated and followed social distancing to defeat the disease, which has taken thousands of lives across the world.
“If we can reach 80pc compliance of people, the infection rate goes down. If we can achieve a 90pc compliance rate, the infection rate goes down dramatically,” Mr McCusker said.
Mr McCusker – who has printed dozens of “Stay Home, Stay Safe” car bumper stickers – said it was important the message cut through to the community.
“We have to get this message across very quickly – and people are getting that message.”
Mr McCusker said he needed to print additional bumper stickers given high demand from the public.
“I was handing them out in the carpark yesterday and people wanted them – I ran out of them.”
Arguing the community was responding well to these messages, he conceded there was room for improvement.
“We are not going to give up. We are going to strive to do better.”
Mr McCusker also urged people not to travel over the Easter break and spread the deadly virus.
In particular, he said he did not want to see travellers coming to Mount Gambier.
“People need to stay home for Easter. The one thing this virus requires is a new host. If we deny a new host for that virus, it will die,” Mr McCusker said.
“We love our visitors but right now we do not want them.”
Despite the unfolding pandemic, he said morale among hospital staff appeared strong.
“The leadership is always talking to us and are always available. They are given us daily updates as well.”
Mr McCusker said staff across the hospital were also poised to step in at any moment.
“I have already done some work in casualty. Before I was an orthopaedic surgeon, I was an ordinary doctor. I am ready to it again if required,” he said.
“We have a very good and cohesive team.”