GV Health prepared for changing COVID-19 crisis
Published at: 20 Mar 2020
Goulburn Valley Health chief executive Matt Sharp said the health service had undertaken significant preparation to manage the likely increased demand of coronavirus-related services.
An Acute Respiratory Clinic and screening station has been established at GV Health to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.
Located in GV Health’s former Dialysis Unit, the clinic and station came about after GV Health put its existing Pandemic Plan in place.
The screening station is located in front of the Emergency Department and will see members of the public who have symptoms of coronavirus daily from 10 am to 6 pm.
Screening for the virus had previously been managed by the emergency department.
Mr Sharp said elements of this plan had been and would continue to be progressively implemented in coming days and weeks.
“GV Health also has in place an incident management team that has overseen these preparations, and this will quickly transition to an emergency management response team when required,” he said.
“The incident management team has been meeting daily including over the last weekend.
“GV Health has also dedicated additional resources to manage the COVID-19 outbreak and is prioritising our clinical care and related activities accordingly.”
Mr Sharp said in addition, the health service had been in regular contact with the Department of Health and Human Services regarding the changing circumstances related to COVID-19.
“This has been valuable in ensuring we have the most up-to-date information in order to adapt our plans and response to suit,” he said.
Mr Sharp said weekly teleconferences were also in place with public hospitals across the Hume Region in order to share information resources and ensure a coordinated response should the situation escalate.
“We encourage people to regularly check the DHHS website for the most up-to-date information and read the content as it’s incredibly helpful in understanding this changing situation,” he said.
“Not only is this information the most recent and up-to-date, but it also makes a big difference for our staff. Currently, we’re fielding a lot of inquiries related to information the general public could access online or via the dedicated DHHS hotline — this takes considerable pressure off our clinical staff who are dedicated to treating our patients.”
GV Health’s Medical Services executive director and Chief Medical Officer Dr John Elcock said everyone in the community could play their part in containing the spread of the virus.
“You should pay close attention to good hand hygiene,” he said.
“Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially before eating and after using the toilet.
“Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing with a tissue, or cough into your elbow.
“Dispose of the tissue into a bin and then wash your hands afterwards.”
Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that anyone who had travelled overseas must self-isolate for 14 days.
GV Health advises these steps
The public is requested to follow the steps below in order to access information related to COVID-19.
These steps are being taken in order to prioritise GV Health’s resources for people requiring higher levels of care:
• The first place to access information regarding COVID-19 is the Victorian Department of Health Services website
• The second place to access information is the corona virus hotline on 1800 675 398
• The third place is your local general practice clinic
• GV Health should be only be considered once the first three steps above have been followed
• Triple zero (000) calls should be for emergencies only
Screening process explained
The GV Health coronavirus screening service is currently open from 10am to 6pm, seven days a week.
GV Health’s COVID-19 project manager Brett Walters said those presenting for screening would be directed away from the emergency department to a nearby undercover area.
“They are asked a short series of screening questions,” he said.
“About 50 per cent of people presenting do not meet the criteria for any other assessment at that point.
“They are told this and given an information sheet that advises them of this.”
Mr Walters said those who required further assessment based on screening questions were directed to GV Health’s Acute Respiratory Clinic a short distance away.
“Those that meet the current DHHS guidelines for testing are then swabbed and given a different information sheet,” he said.
Mr Walters also stressed that those who presented who were obviously sick and needed more thorough attention would be treated in a single room in GV Health’s emergency department.