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Coronavirus preparedness

Monday 6 April 2020


The Central West Hospital and Health Service is well-prepared and has comprehensive plans in place to manage any outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases within the region.

These plans and strategies are aligned with Queensland Health’s state-wide management plans, as well as with interstate and federal counterparts.

These plans ensure we have adequate supplies, equipment, staff and contingencies across all hospitals.

At this time, Central West residents should be aware and informed about novel coronavirus but not alarmed.

Our experienced team of experts have responded well to health emergencies in the past, and we will do it again.

At this point in Queensland, most cases are still from people who have travelled overseas or have had direct contact with a confirmed case in someone that has travelled overseas.

In the Central West, we have completed plans to prepare our hospitals, multipurpose health services and primary health centres for any COVID-19 scenarios.

We can increase the number of beds across our facilities if and as required.

We are also constructing an additional access ramp to the new day surgery unit at Longreach Hospital to improve patient flow in the event of any increase in patient numbers as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Our staff are being supported with personal protective equipment and training, as well as regular check-ups to manage health and wellbeing.

We have workforce plans in place to replace staff who may become unwell, as well as to expand staffing overall if required to meet higher demand.

We will do this using a combination of agency and locum staff, as well as utilising retired staff who may return to non-clinical roles and community members who have lost jobs.

As part of the preparation for a potential expansion in staff, we are installing four, demountable, three-bedroom and ensuite buildings on the Longreach Hospital campus,

As well as providing additional accommodation if needed, the on-site location allows for the centralised provision of meals and laundry services from the Longreach Hospital kitchen and laundry.

We have plans in place for the establishment of fever clinics at Longreach, Winton, Blackall and Blackall hospitals if required.

All our other facilities also have identified off-site screening areas for patients presenting with respiratory conditions.

Currently, Central West Health is delivering testing as required to people who meet the testing criteria, mainly as drive-through, in-vehicle, in front of hospitals. We are also delivering testing in residents’ homes if required.

Test samples are sent mostly to laboratories in Brisbane but sometimes also to Townsville.

Results are generally returned with 48 to 72 hours, sometimes longer over the weekend as there are fewer flights or road transport options to Brisbane and Townsville at those times.

To help minimise external travel to and from our region, we have started to convert outreach specialist appointments, as well as routine GP consultation appointments, to telehealth models of care, in line with current Australian Government strategy.

To protect potentially vulnerable communities, we all need to work together to help stop the spread of COVID-19. All Queenslanders play an important role to protect vulnerable members of the community, such as elderly people and those with pre-existing health conditions.

Central West residents can do their part by practising good hygiene.

Washing your hands is the gold standard of health advice as far as coronavirus goes.

Washing your hands properly and often means that you can help prevent viruses from entering your body.

All Queenslanders also are being asked to practice physical distancing and keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others. Please also stay at home as much as possible, unless absolutely necessary, and definitely stay at home if you are unwell.

If you have been overseas in the past 14 days and have a fever or respiratory symptoms, please see a doctor immediately. Ensure you call ahead to your local health facility to let them know you’re coming, so they can prepare and provide you with instructions.

ENDS

For further information contact:

James Guthrie
Principal Media Officer, Rural and Remote Qld
Media and Communication
Department of Health
(07) 3708 5379

Jim.Guthrie@health.qld.gov.au

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Last updated: 15 April 2020