Foster and Toora Medical Centres
ONCE again the COVID landscape has changed dramatically since our last article. The feeling that we in Australia had somehow avoided the pandemic now seems innocent and naïve.
Melbourne is in lockdown and the numbers are not going down. Community transmission is up and we are mirroring what has occurred overseas with multiple nursing homes now affected in Victoria. Rural spread is occurring and we are not immune in South Gippsland. There is an increased apprehension throughout all three Precinct locations.
Predicting what is ahead is difficult; preventing what could be ahead is at least partly in our hands.
If everyone abides by the rules of social distancing, hand washing, cough/sneeze etiquette, masks when not able to socially distance and staying away from work if at all sick then we collectively can make a difference. Get tested early for even the most minor of symptoms (fever, snuffles, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, new loss of taste/smell) as this will enable us to pick up any local COVID at the earliest stage and prevent spread. And avoid all non-essential travel especially to Melbourne.
There is a noticeable ‘message fatigue’ in the population at exactly the wrong time. It is too easy to become lax and indifferent, to bend the rules and, because there has been so little COVID locally to date, to presume that we are safe. Which is exactly the environment that will lead to the local transmission we are desperate to avoid.
At the Medical Centre everyone is now in masks. Although we are providing disposable masks, please do bring and use your own as our supplies will not last forever. Although not yet mandatory in country Victoria, the suspicion is that masks will be part of our defence for an extended period.
Our Respiratory Clinic is running well. A huge thanks go to our two nurse Rebeccas (“B1 and B2”) who do a power of work each day there in trying conditions. If you have symptoms, ring the medical centre. Your details will be relayed to the Respiratory Clinic nurses who will ring you back, triage you and give a time to come in for testing, assessment and help.
It remains essential that once tested that people stay at home in self-isolation until the result comes through. (That means no shopping or going down the street!). Your help in keeping all respiratory illnesses away from the main clinic to protect our staff and other patients is appreciated.
As mentioned previously, please continue to look after your medical conditions. Be aware of the toll this environment is taking on your own and others’ mental health. Seek help if you need it and let us continue to look after each other.
South Gippsland Hospital
THE Victorian Chief Health Officer recently requested that all hospitals tighten up access requirements across the state, and South Gippsland Hospital has aligned its processes with the directions that were issued. As of last Thursday, our patients can only have one visitor per day, for no more than one hour.
Additionally, only the partner/support person of our women admitted in our maternity care service are permitted to visit. Prior to giving birth, there are no time limits on how long a partner/support person can stay. However, following the birth, visits are limited to one per day for a maximum of two hours.
We understand that this will be distressing news to women and families and we will support them the best we can. There are some circumstances where we can make exceptions and our dedicated team will discuss all of this in the lead up to an admission. Our maternity care team understand how difficult this is for all concerned.
Exceptions to these requirements can only be authorised by the Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Ms Marion Bowron. Full details: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/
Coupled with these changes, it is important to highlight that there have been a few instances in recent times of people congregating outside patient room windows or outside other hospital areas in groups. Additionally, we have had many people trying to enter the hospital outside of our visiting hours, which compared to some other health services still provide a generous window to visit at various times through the week.
Please avoid coming to the hospital unless absolutely necessary, and respect these requirements. We will do all we can to make sure your loved one feels connected to their family/friends, despite the visiting restrictions.
Visiting Hours remain unchanged: Monday to Friday 9.30am to 11.30 am, and 5pm to 7pm. Saturday and Sunday 10am to 1pm.
Our priority is the safety of our patients receiving care, such as elderly people and those with chronic medical conditions. Patients receiving inpatient care are especially vulnerable to the transmission of COVID-19, and may be critically at-risk if exposed.
We ask for your understanding please and thank you for your cooperation and ongoing support. Please be sure to monitor our website and Facebook as things can change.
If you do visit the health service, you will see our staff wearing masks. We have been wearing these about 2 weeks, and we will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. We urge you all in our community to keep up the great work and remain vigilant and don a mask when up the street, especially if unable to maintain physical distancing. Given the rise in community transmissions across Victoria, and indeed in the South Gippsland Shire, now is the time to be extra careful, to protect yourself and those around you. Thank you.
Please familiarise yourself with the symptoms of COVID-19, looking out for these in yourself, and also within family and friends. The symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, and loss of sense of smell or taste.
If you have even the slightest hint of being unwell, please stay at home until you can organise to be tested. Our Urgent Care Centre is not a respiratory clinic as testing is available at the Foster Medical Centre Monday to Friday (Ph: 5682 2088), and the Wonthaggi Hospital (10am-5pm, weekends).
We thank you for your understanding during these times and apologise for any inconvenience. The health of our community, patients, visitors and staff is our biggest priority during the COVID-19 pandemic
Prom Country Aged Care
AS we write this article there has been a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in aged care settings across Victoria in addition to a large increase in community transmissions.
Cases are now also active and increasing in regional areas, including South Gippsland, so whilst regional areas are not in stage 3 lockdowns, we plead that you continue to assist us in keeping the virus out of Prom Country House.
This can be done by continuing to social distance, washing hands and undertaking essential travel and visits only. Whilst we are enjoying the freedom of the regional area it only takes one unsuspecting and unintentional contact to bring this virus into the facility.
Therefore, we ask anyone who may be thinking of visiting the facility to please defer your visit for at least the next 3 weeks, or until there is some additional control of the virus in Victoria. There are many alternative options to visit your loved one including our non-contact visitor room and our team are more than happy to arrange a skype, facetime, zoom or other alternative non-contact visiting method.
Face to face visits are still available for essential care and where a resident is palliative or unwell. A reminder that all visits during this pandemic must be pre-booked with reception during business hours on 5682 0800.
Prom Country Aged care continues to have no cases amongst our staff, residents, contractors or visiting medical staff.
Our staff, visitors and contractors have all been required to wear masks since Saturday 18th July 2020. Our residents are required to wear masks only during group activities when they cannot socially distance.
A huge thankyou to our staff, residents, families, contractors and visiting medical team who are all exhausted and have been on the front line of this fight for the last 4 months. We understand your frustration and sacrifices during those months and are extremely grateful for your dedication and commitment to this fight and the safety of our residents. We are all in this together and ask that you continue to support us in the goal of keeping Prom Country House free from COVID-19.
If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to book a potential visit please call reception on 5682 0800 during business hours.