The Mirror News


Dr Antoun Boulos in protective gear at the Fever Clinic at Foster Medical Centre on Friday. Antoun is a senior GP Registrar who has been in Tasmania doing his training until this year.  He has started working at Foster at a particularly challenging time… The Fever Clinic is an interim measure FMC has adopted to enable them to screen and manage patients with fever and respiratory symptoms. Patients are screened by phone before the clinic; most do not fit the criteria for swabbing and can be managed normally. This is an interim measure until the internal building works are completed to create a special isolated area for respiratory and COVID assessments.

(with apologies to D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers)

All for one…

THE COVID-19 pandemic has banded us together for one common goal…to prevent the spread of the virus in our community, to protect our citizens from its effects, to look after each other. 

What can we all do? 

The instructions are not new…

… STAY AT HOME if at all possible and for as much as possible. This is the key message. (Good quality Australian data predicts that coronavirus can only be truly controlled if 8 out of 10 Australians stay at home)

… social distancing (be 1.5 metres away from everyone)

… hand hygiene (especially when you have had to be in a public place….wash your hands properly many times a day. This prevents COVID from getting from your hands into your mouth…. we all touch our faces too much!)

… totally avoid big groups (bunker down, stay at home with family, stay connected with friends and family by other means)

… definitely, stay at home if you have an illness (cough into your elbow, especially if you’re out as you are less likely to transmit any viruses if not on your hands)

… be kind to one another! There is so much anxiety and uncertainty everywhere. There is so much hardship and everyone has a story. We can counter that through kindness…. and education

…“Spread the message, not the virus”. The message needs to get through to all age groups. In Victoria (on 27/3) there were more people infected in the 20-35 yo age group than in the over 65 yo group. Young people do get the virus! They are less likely to get really sick, (although young people overseas are hospitalised and are dying), but increase the chances of transmitting the virus to our older, at risk groups. Our grandparents, our older demographic and our sicker members of society are particularly at risk. We need to educate all groups that we are all in this together, …”all for one”.

“And one for all”!

This is the time for individuals to shine and be HEROES for the common good.

The real heroes are those that have been told to self-isolate and are doing this properly. They are not doing this for their own good but for the good of the rest of us. (Strictly, self isolating is different to social distancing and spending ‘more time at home’. It involves 14 days of not being around anyone at all and severely limiting any time out of the house. People arriving from overseas have to self isolate, as do people who have been diagnosed with COVID who don’t need hospitalisation, etc. Your doctor will direct you to self isolate if required).

It is not easy to self isolate and it is predicted that many more of us will have to do this in the near future. Those doing it now are preventing potential spread of COVID and are doing that for the rest of us. They are heroes and we applaud them. See the graph below which shows the benefit.

The heroes are the holiday makers who decide NOT to come.

Now is the time for everyone to take an individual, personal lead. To be a hero. Do what is right, be quick to help, be slow to judge others (we rarely know the whole picture), and as a community we will get through this.

Foster and Toora Medical Centres

ALONG with usual activities, we are largely occupied in preparation mode. We are trying to get the balance right between continuing to look after you our patients, not putting you at any increased risk (we are doing many more phone consultations and fewer face-to-face), educating without causing too much anxiety, and preparing for what our medical experts predict will be a very busy time ahead. 

We are testing people who fit the strict criteria that the Victorian government sets out for COVID testing. Most of the people that we see in the so-called Fever Clinic do not need testing. 

We are continuing with internal building works to section off part of the medical centre for respiratory illness assessment. More to follow.  

We ask for your understanding at this time, and people have been so far very good…. there is a lot of pressure and change and our wonderful staff have really stepped up. You will see us in masks and gloves (even scrubs) a lot more. In our particular setting this helps to decrease our risk of transmission. 

Again, if further good quality information is required please go to our Website (www.foster or our Facebook page (“Foster and Toora Medical Centres”) dedicated only to the pandemic and associated issues. There are links in both to DHHS websites (such as 

Prom Country Aged Care (PCAC)

PROM Country Aged Care is continuing with the decision made to restrict all movements in and out of the facility until  April 15, 2020. 

We must continue to be hypervigilant in our actions and protect those we care for against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, our priority is the safety of our residents and staff.

Prom Country Aged Care has no cases in the facility or amongst our staff.   

Given the likelihood of this continuing for an extended period we are looking at alternative ways to implement visits with your loved ones and will keep you informed as these develop. 

At this stage we are offering Zoom meetings and phone contact. For those who have difficulty using or cannot use a phone the Community Development Team will assist with contact using technology Monday to Friday during business hours. 

We are also looking at alternative ways to be innovative and sustainable to care for our residents if this continues for an extended period. We may need to ask the community for volunteers to assist in areas of need. If this may be of interest to you, please contact reception on 03 5682 0800.

 South Gippsland Hospital

AS per the Department of Health and Human Services directives in the management of COVID 19,  all non-urgent surgery will be put on hold  at South Gippsland Hospital until further notice.  Monday, March 30 was our last surgical session, accommodating  urgent categorised patients only.   All waitlisted patients have been contacted informing them of the situation, with the assurance that surgery will recommence when possible. All in coming non urgent referrals from the Foster Medical Clinic will be waitlisted and alternative arrangements will be made for all urgent referrals.

The entry process to access the Community Health Centre and the Main Hospital has been updated since last week, and aligns with the instructions issued to all health services by the Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer (Communicable Diseases). All clients and visitors (during the revised visiting hours of 930 to 1130am or 5pm to 7pm) must not only sign the visitor register on entry and exit, but must also be screened for any respiratory symptoms, recent travel history and have their temperature taken. Our staff are also being screened to protect you. Additionally, we ask that only 1 visitor attend per patient, for no more than an hour at a time, whilst also maintaining a social distance of 1.5m.  

The Urgent Care Centre entrance on Jones Street has been closed to assist with managing these changes.  Access to South Gippsland Radiology  is still available and all visitors are requested to go the main entrance, unless attending for Urgent Care (and the Foster Medical Centre are unable to assist at the clinic).  If you intend on presenting to the Urgent Care  Centre please call ahead during this unusual time (5683 9777),  unless it’s a medical emergency where you should always call 000. Thank you for your patience with the screening processes and for adapting so quickly to our changing circumstances.

Thank you also for staying home. The next few months is totally influenced by what we do as individuals and families over the next few days and weeks.  Each person in our community has a responsibility and can make a real difference to the numbers of people who live and die in South Gippsland. If we all adhere to physical distancing, stay at home as much as possible, and wash our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, we will all be helping.

From April 3, SGH CEO Chris Trotman will become the Chief Pandemic Officer for the four hospitals in the sub-regional partnership. In this way the hospitals will be well positioned to manage the expected influx of COVID19 patients while maintaining essential health services for our general communities. The Board will shortly announce the new CEO for SGH. 


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