The Mirror News

COVID-19 update

Foster and Toora Medical Centres

FIRST off, huge congratulations to Dr Laurie Warfe for his OAM. Laurie has been working with us for the last year or so after moving for a ‘treechange’ and his experience, unflappable nature and quiet, understated competency have been a welcome addition to the Medical Centre. Richly deserved recognition indeed and typical of the man that we had no idea of his prior achievements!

Reflections

Let us not forget what could have been.

Quickly COVID can become yesterday’s news and we can become complacent. Watching what is unfolding in South America and the USA can provide us with a reality check about the threat that we have so far averted in Australia. The current situation has been created through sound early advice and some brave decisions by our chief medical officers and politicians. And by adherence by the public to the restrictions installed. There has been a savage economic fallout and many people have suffered as a result, but there is little doubt that a bigger tragedy has so far been avoided and thousands of lives saved.

There is no room for complacency.

Testing for COVID

With the easing of restrictions, Respiratory Clinics across Victoria, including Gippsland and ours at Foster, have noticed a decrease in the number of people getting tested.

The important message is that now restrictions are easing, it is more important than ever to continue testing so any community outbreaks can be detected.

Symptomatic testing is for people who HAVE respiratory symptoms such as fever or chills or a respiratory sickness (e.g. cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose or loss of smell). In addition, testing is recommended for people with new onset of other clinical symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (headache, muscle pain, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea).

Just ring the clinic on 5682 2088 and book into the respiratory clinic at Foster. It is quick, safe and at no cost to the patient, it will help the cause in keeping the pandemic at bay.

COVID App

As restrictions ease, it is now more important than ever to download the COVIDSafe app. This tool helps to protect the health of the community by enabling state and territory health officials to quickly identify and contact people who may be at risk of having been in contact with the virus. To date over 6.2 million people have downloaded the COVIDSafe app.

Flu shots

There have been more flu vaccines produced and as mentioned last week, the Medical Centre has more to distribute. Just ring for an appointment with our nurses.

Confirmed Influenza cases so far in Victoria this year are at 4,545 compared with 14,124 at the same time last year showing that social distancing and hand /cough hygiene go a long way to preventing viral spread.

South Gippsland Hospital

The Bass Coast Health Maternity service has now well and truly returned to the Wonthaggi Hospital (with lots of good news coming from the West), the resumption of surgery (in our new building) is on track for Thursday 25 June, and our community care services look set to be fully operational by the end of the month. Our much missed volunteers will be contacted over the next week or so to advise when they can re-engage and bring them up to speed on our new screening and other internal processes.

The visiting hours at the hospital have changed a little on weekends recently, but the access requirements haven’t. Please note that the visiting hours are now from 8.30am to 12.30pm Saturday and Sunday. There has been no change during the week, so it remains 9.30am to 11.30am or 5pm to 7pm during the COVID-19 State of Emergency period at least. Even though the times have changed we all still need to comply with the Directions issued by the Deputy Chief Health Officer (#4).These Directions intend to limit the spread of COVID-19, and prohibit non-essential visits.

Just to recap, each patient can have up to 2 care and support visits a day, provided the total duration is no longer than 2 hours and the total number of visitors is no more than 2. There are some finer aspects to the directions so please chat with our staff if you’re unsure or jump online (www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorias-restriction-levels-covid-19). To that end, whilst our Urgent Care Centre (UCC) is open, please remember that you will need to press a buzzer to access the Centre (and a phone call ahead of your visit is appreciated at the moment – but not necessary). We ask you that if you attend please conduct hand hygiene, physical distancing and screening etiquette on arrival. As a reminder, the UCC is not a COVID- 19 Assessment Clinic. If you suspect you may have COVID-19, please call the hotline on 1800 675 398. If directed to access a clinic you can either access the Foster Medical Centre or the Wonthaggi Medical Group.

We apologise for any inconvenience, and thank you for continuing to support your local health service and for your understanding during this time.

Prom Country Aged Care

We continue to have no cases amongst our staff, contractors, residents or visiting medical team members and thank the community for the ongoing understanding and vigilance in doing the right thing during this pandemic.

As the restrictions in the wider community continue to ease, Prom Country Aged Care will need to continue to restrict movements into the facility for the foreseeable future due to the highly infectious nature of the virus. Even though community restrictions are being eased this virus is still present within the wider community and the safety of our residents and staff, as always, is our number one priority. This is no time to become complacent especially in a residential aged care environment.

During this pandemic we have been fully compliant with the directions issued by the Chief Medical Officer of Victoria and the newly developed Visitors Access Code for residential aged care. We will continue to monitor any changes in this advice to guide us as to potential easing of restrictions.

Family and friends can visit Prom County House using any of the following:

  • Non-Contact Visitor Room between 10am and 3pm – Monday to Saturday.
  • Short in person visits under strict conditions between 10am and 3pm Monday to Saturday.
  • Skype or other technology with assistance from community development team.

Bookings for any of these visits are welcome by calling reception on 5682 0800 Mon – Fri during business hours. All visits to the facility must be pre- booked and in person visits require additional screening and approval prior to entry.

Family and friends can visit residents using any of the above methods, however our preference is using the non-contact visitors room or technology if possible, as these are the least risky ways to keep in touch whilst this virus is still in the wider community.

Critical medical appointments are still being attended and exemptions exist if residents are unwell or during palliative stages.

A reminder that from 1 May 2020 to enter the premises of a residential aged care facility in Victoria you must have had a 2020 Flu Vaccination and be able to provide evidence of this prior to entry.

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to book a potential visit or contact please call reception during business hours.

COVID-19 local support booklet released

SOUTH Gippsland Shire Council in partnership with Bass Coast Shire Council, the Latrobe Health Assembly, the South Coast Primary and Community Partnership and Department of Health and Human Services have developed a local support booklet in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The booklet is available online on South Gippsland Shire Council’s, Bass Coast Shire Council’s and the South Coast Primary and Community Partnership’s websites and is being distributed tolocal service providers in a print version to provide to the community.

South Gippsland Shire Council’s Chief Executive Officer Kerryn Ellis was pleased to have the resource available to support the community.

“The COVID-19 crisis has been an adjustment for everyone and has put many people in unexpected situations which are making everyday life difficult.

“I thoroughly encourage anyone who is experiencing hardship right now to use this booklet to seek help from local support services. Our region has a wide range of support services available and these organisations are ready to support those who need assistance right now.

“Our community is resilient and I am thankful that people have been looking out for one another during this time. Our hope is that this booklet will build on this support and ensure that everyone who is doing it tough can receive the assistance they need.

“I would like to thank the project group for their wonderful work on this resource and in particular extend our gratitude to the Latrobe Health Assembly and the Department of Health and Human Services who generously offered to assist with the design and printing of the booklets,” said Ms Ellis.

Bass Coast Shire Council’s Chief Executive Officer Ali Wastie thanked the community for the support they are providing to each other and extended her thanks to service providers who have continued to support the community.

“Both Councils appreciate the amount of information being provided to the community during the response to COVID19. This booklet provides information on local services and supports available during this time and how best to contact them,” said Ms Wastie.

Those wishing to view the booklet can visit Council’s website www.southgippsland.vic.gov.au/covid-19

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