The Mirror News

Stage 3 Lockdown

Foster and Toora Medical Centres

Who would have predicted last year that we would all be wearing facemasks and becoming immune to pictures of empty Melbourne city streets under an 8 pm curfew, patrolled by police and soldiers?

There is little doubt that we are in for a long and painful haul back to a new normality. The numbers remain high and it is hard to avoid letting them dictate our collective daily mood. We have become amateur statisticians and epidemiologists and are encouraged by the lowering of the ‘R’ factor recently to under 1; our new found knowledge leads us to understand that this should reflect in decreasing numbers ‘soon’. But Christmas suddenly seems too close…

At the Medical Centre we are well aware of the increased numbers of Health Care Workers being infected in Victoria and are constantly looking at ways of decreasing our risk. Hence all the precautions that we have detailed in every Mirror article. Please let our receptionists know if you have ANY of the (by now hopefully well known) following symptoms: fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, recent loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath or chills. Let them know if you have been recently to a ‘hot spot’. They will then be able to most appropriately help you access testing and assessment.

We have been impressed by our local community’s response to getting tested as the message is clear that this is the best way of getting on top of any outbreak. Keep coming early if you have any symptoms. There is no fee attached for being assessed and tested, and although not particularly pleasant, the testing itself is frequently over within moments. We are finding that results are now coming back much more quickly, often in only a day or so; the self-isolation required until results are back is shorter than previously.

We warmly welcome two new receptionists (Rachael Francis and Deborah Youren) to our team as we say farewell (for a while anyway) to Coby and Hannah, who we both wish well in their new endeavours. 

These are tough and exceptional times. Continue to look after yourselves and your neighbours. And please seek help if needed.

FMC Principal, Phil Worboys 

South Gippsland Hospital 

TO our community readers I want to say a big thank you for your continued support and understanding. As like most reports I will outline some changes, however firstly I would like to provide some context to these. 

It would come as no surprise that like you, we have to constantly review the state-wide directives. We also need to keep abreast of the Department of Health and Human Services guidelines and the relevant taskforce advice from Safer Care Victoria constantly as new developments occur.

To give you some idea of how we go about this, we firstly review new and revised information as an executive management team daily and then I meet (via phone or zoom) weekly in partnership with the Health Precinct, the Sub Regional Partnership Group (Bass Coast Health, Gippsland Southern Health Service, and Koo Wee Rup Health Service) and the Gippsland Regional Cluster Group (with Latrobe Regional Hospital as the lead agency).

Across all these levels we discuss pertinent aspects of clinical care, health service processes, capabilities and workforce capacity. Part of these discussions is ensuring we all have safe consistent protocols at each heath service, as well as having clear pathways of care, so we know where sicker patients will go for a higher levels of care.

I am also engaged in the state-wide CEO meetings, so I feel very connected to all the health sector leadership levels. Our Board are with the Executive Management team every step of the way, too. Having this united, consistent and coordinated plan is crucial to keeping us all safe during these uncertain times.

Part of this plan is how we engage with you, and as its really tricky in the current world, social media has become a big part of it. I encourage people on Facebook to check out our page please. I am happy to set up a community zoom meeting too if anyone thinks that is a good idea.

Please let our reception staff know if you’d like to be involved – simply email [email protected] and in the subject line add CEO ZOOM meeting. Please let us know when the best times may be too and we can set a meeting up in the next couple of weeks.

Now for the services update.

Our community groups have once again been suspended until further notice. This means that our strength training, falls prevention, Senior Day Stay and our Social Support Groups will not be recommencing most likely until the Stage 3 restrictions ease. Individual appointments at the Community Health Centre (CHC) can continue. If anyone prefers telehealth over attending the CHC, and it is an appropriate alternative please, discuss this option with your care team.

As our access and visiting requirements have not changed, we will still ask clients or visitors a set of questions on arrival and take your temperature. If attending the CHC or the hospital you will see clinical staff now wearing face shields (or another form of eye protection) in addition to face masks.

To recap on visiting restrictions, 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 are still very aware this is 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 and during any admission.

Whilst our surgery service was very busy in July, and everyone is enjoying the new building, we have to pull back on the amount and types of surgery. We will also have to start testing patients for COVID-19  prior to surgery from next week.

Gabrielle Buckland and her team will be in touch with those who will need to undertake the test. Its worth noting that Melbourne patients  have been required to do this for over a month, and we have now been asked to follow suit. More on surgical services in Hospital Happenings. 

Finally, may I remind everyone to please familiarise yourself with the symptoms of COVID-19. 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). Gippsland Southern Health Service will be starting limited testing from Tuesday 18 August also, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 8.30-430.

I 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. Stay safe.

CEO, Paul Greenhalgh 

Prom Country Aged Care 

COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the community and particularly in aged care settings across Victoria. This virus is insidious and does not discriminate. The only way we can reduce the cases of community transmission is to reduce our movements to essential travel only.  Hence the government’s Stage 3 restrictions in our region and Stage 4 in Melbourne. 

There is some general attitude in the community that this virus is not impacting us, it won’t impact me in South Gippsland. Well I can tell you it is. It is in our region and everyone is vulnerable no matter your age or pre-existing conditions.

Whilst our aged care setting is particularly vulnerable, it takes us all to come together to assist in keeping the virus out of our facility. So we plead with you to adhere by the restrictions and limit movements, don’t visit others during this time and we will get to the other side of this.  It’s a minor six-week inconvenience for the long-term gain. And even though we are all wearing masks, social distancing rules still apply. 

 A huge thankyou to our front-line staff who have been fighting this virus for 5 months now. You are amazing and your dedication and commitment to our residents and their safety has been second to none.  

PCAC continues to have no cases amongst our residents, staff, contractors or visiting medical professionals.  

Staff have been requested to restrict movements and exposure when not at work, are restricted to working at one aged care facility or in one medical facility where the risks are assessed as high, are wearing masks and face shields at all times in the facility.  We also continue to have temperatures tested at beginning of each shift and are scanned each day for symptoms and not attending work if showing even the slightest of symptoms.  

PCAC continues with restricted movements into the facility as ask if this can be extended until September 13 in line with the State of Disaster restrictions.  We are still allowing visitors for care needs and palliative visits and thank all families and friends for significantly reducing face to face visits over the last 2 weeks. Its only takes one unsuspecting movement to bring this virus into the facility.

Visits can be discussed by calling 5682 0800 during business hours. Given the restrictions in place please don’t be offended if your request is denied in the interests of the safety of our residents and staff. If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to book a potential visit please call reception on 5682 0800 during business hours.

– CEO, Justin Wightman


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