Hospital tightens measures as Victorian numbers on rise

Elaine Pretorius  TBW Newsgroup
TESTING BLITZ: Regional medical chief Dr Elaine Pretorius has called on residents to get tested for COVID-19 if they have flu-like symptoms. Picture: SANDRA MORELLO

MOUNT Gambier Hospital has tightened its precautionary measures as dozens of new COVID19 cases continue to be diagnosed daily across Victoria.

Victorian residents attending the hospital are now required to wear surgical masks and present a crossborder exemption before entering the regional health facility as part of the new measures.

Testing capabilities will also be expanded to accommodate increased demand for tests, which health officials expect will continue to climb while the unfolding situation in metropolitan Victoria remains volatile.

Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services yesterday announced a further 177 COVID-19 had been recorded since Sunday, its first sub-200 figure in three days.

Mount Gambier Hospital staff have now added additional screening questions specific to Victoria at its entry points, with all visitors required to undergo the brief screening which includes a temperature check, hand hygiene protocols and a survey.

Limestone Coast Local Health Network medical services executive director Dr Elaine Pretorius said emergency or unexpected medical patients would undergo a COVID-19 test on arrival but no patient would be declined treatment.

“We have tightened up a few things again around our screening and have followed direction from our emergency management team,” Dr Pretorius said.

“We do have to ensure there are exemptions in place before people travel and ensure face masks are worn.

“If there are emergencies or unexpected appointments, they (Victorians) will be able to cross the border, but they will have a COVID19 test when they present to us.”

Visiting hours remain the same, from 1-2pm and 6-8pm daily, with only one visitor allowed at any time per patient and for 15 minutes only.

Dr Pretorius said COVID-19 testing hours had increased to accommodate South Australians returning to the state after travelling from Victoria.

“Weekend times are now available – South Australian residents returning from Victoria now require a test on day one and day 12,” she said.

“In the past few days we have increased testing a little bit by around 10 patients per day and we are expecting that to continue to increase.

“It has not tripled or quadrupled, but I am sure if we were to look at the end of this week, we will probably start to see some increase.”

Dr Pretorius said Victorians who arrive without a mask will be provided with one on site.

“For South Australians it is not necessary for them to wear a mask, but as soon as there is community transmission is when masks do become important.

“We do know the things we have already been doing well work, the physical distancing, the hand hygiene and now there is also increasing evidence for the use of masks are effective when there is community transmission.”

Dr Pretorius urged the community to be as attentive as they were at the start of the pandemic and to follow all restrictions without complacency.

“We have seen how quickly the virus can spread and with just one little slip, it can spread quickly, just as the Victorian experience has shown as,” she said.

“I know everybody is a little bit tired about all of this and it does not feel real for us who are safe at the moment, but it can change from safe to unsafe in the blink of an eye.

“Especially for us in the South East, we are close to the border, we have had a case in Warrnambool, it is on our doorstep.”