Hospital testing demand surges

Keith Hodshon  TBW Newsgroup
LONG WAIT: Keith Hodshon was in the queue for over three hours, but said he understood the new measures were necessary to keep South Australia safe. Pictures: TODD LEWIS

Bunnings Covid TBW Newsgroup
FREQUENT TESTING: Dartmoor man Henk Lubbe holds the form, which advises him of the requirement to get tested every seven days as a cross-border community member.

A SECOND COVID-19 testing station in Mount Gambier is among the measures being considered to reduce waiting times at the Mount Gambier Hospital.

It follows the second straight day of lengthy queues at the regional health facility, which conducted a daily record of 314 tests for the virus on Wednesday.

New border restrictions require cross-border community members and essential travellers to be tested every seven days, which has triggered a sudden surge in demand for more testing at the Mount Gambier facility.

The new arrangement has been frustrating for those waiting to be tested, with some forced to sit in the queue for over three hours yesterday.

Limestone Coast Local Health Network (LCLHN) medical services executive director Dr Elaine Pretorius said contingency plans were being put in place to try and ease the congestion.

“We are focused on strengthening our testing capability and yesterday you would have seen staff walking up and down the queue collecting information to streamline the process once they reached the station,” she said.

“We are also exploring the possibility of a second testing station in Mount Gambier, but we have not identified a site yet.”

Dartmoor man Henk Lubbe joined the queue on Pinehall Avenue at around 10am yesterday after a failed attempt to get tested on Wednesday afternoon.

“We were told we could do it at the border, but when I went there, they said it was only available for truckies,” he told The Border Watch.

“It is a bit disappointing they have the facility and are not using it , but I suppose they do not want the same queue there.”

Dr Pretorius believed increasing testing at the border sites would create logistical issues for SA Pathology.

“It would dilute resources even further and they are already spreading a little thin,” she said.

“It is really a decision for police and SA Pathology.”

It took more than three hours for interstate truck driver Keith Hodshon to reach the front of the queue, despite arriving at 7.45am – before testing officially began.

“The amount of people that are here, another testing station would probably be a good idea,” he said.

“ If the Victorians had clamped down a bit harder at the start, we might not have been in this situation now, but it is what it is and we have to do what we have to do.”

LCLHN chair Grant King said everyone needed to tackle the challenges presented by COVID-19 as a determined and responsible cross border community.

“The Limestone Coast region has a strong, longstanding relationship with the Western Districts community and now more than ever, we need to reflect on that relationship and stay strong and supportive,” Mr King said.

“This is not a time to make accusations or lay blame.”

Ultimately, Dr Pretorius said the high testing numbers across the region should be seen as a positive.

“As I said on Wednesday, the more people that get tested, the sooner we will know if this virus rears its ugly head in our community,” she said.