The Mirror News

We are all in this together

• South Gippsland Hospital director of community health Samantha Park, SGH’s newly appointed interim CEO Paul Greenhalgh, and SGH director of nursing and midwifery Marion Bowron are pictured in the reconfigured emergency department foyer at the hospital.

STRAIGHT from the DHHS website, the message is…

  • Stay home. Protect the health system. Save lives. 

There are only four reasons to leave home: 

  • Shopping for what you need – food and essential supplies
  • Medical, care or compassionate needs 
  • Exercise in compliance with the public gathering requirements 
  • Work and study if you can’t work or learn remotely 

We’re asking Victorians to stop looking for loopholes. The advice is clear, by staying at home you’re saving lives. 

The idea of social distancing is now not new to anyone. We know that by staying at home, by not congregating in any sort of group and by maintaining 1.5 metres between each other that we can help contain the spread of the virus. Perhaps physical distancing is an even better description of what is required as now more than ever before we need to foster a unity of purpose, a social unity, to fight Coronavirus.

Now is the time for a very real social responsibility, for knowing that we are all interconnected; knowing that although ‘I might be fine if I get the virus’, my actions can have effects on 3, 4 or 5 people down the track that could be catastrophic. There is an urgency to knowing that self-sacrifice by all, right now, will help contain the spread and effects of the virus.

There are plenty of admirable things occurring in our community in this time. Plenty of people are doing many acts of individual kindness and are volunteering to help. We will explore avenues for this in later articles. The Medical Centre, Hospital and PCAC value your offers but are currently too busy internally to formally organise volunteers.

There is no doubt that our local health resources are limited. The modelling from Victorian Health Department is confronting. There is little doubt that our capacity throughout the state, let alone our region, will likely be severely stretched. Pandemic planning (the number of beds, of ambulances, of health care workers , ICU beds, etc.) for the area is based on our normal population, not on surge populations of holiday makers. It does come back to the first line from the Health Department… Stay home. Protect the health system. Save lives.   

Foster and Toora Medical Centres

AS mentioned before, we are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Internal building works to complete a Respiratory Section quite detached from the rest of the clinic continues at a great pace. Our builders are to be congratulated at minimising disruption to normal activities. Not that ‘normal activites’ quite describes what is going on! Our team is adapting to and implementing changes with an admirable professionalism, many working harder than they ever have. 

From Monday we will be doing more hospital maternity work as South Gippsland Hospital takes over most of Wonthaggi’s obstetrics as they prepare for COVID admissions. The hospital section below details this and more to follow.

Telephone consultations are becoming the most usual consultations now as we try to keep patients safe at home. 

Again we emphasise the need to tell us if you have a fever or a respiratory illness on the phone so we can triage you effectively. If you do need to be seen, patients are asked to wait in the car not the waiting room, to ring on arrival and wait for a call to come in. 

South Gippsland Hospital COVID Update 

THE South Gippsland Hospital Board and Executive Management team continue to closely monitor the pandemic situation and, along with the caring and dedicated staff, we continue to partner with the Foster Health Precinct and our healthcare partners at Gippsland Southern Health Service, Bass Coast Health and the Koo Wee Rup Health Service. We also continue to liaise with the Latrobe Regional Hospital, West Gippsland Healthcare Group and Yarram and District Health.

It is important to highlight that this partnership work is just as crucial as our internal work to prepare for and respond to the expected surge in demand on the healthcare system broadly in the weeks and months to come. The shared pandemic plan will increase the number of beds available to sick people, and keep vulnerable community members shielded from Covid-19 as much as possible.

Our acute care services profile has had to change. As reported last week, our surgical services have been suspended until further notice, with the exception of obstetric care (such as for women requiring elective or emergency caesarean sections). We have allocated zones to the acute ward setting to create service areas that will ensure the expanded Maternity Service (which welcomes Bass Coast Shire women and families) has sufficient space. We will still have the ability to admit patients with non-respiratory conditions, and whilst this capacity has reduced, we are working through strategies to ensure we can look after as many people locally as possible. More on that next week.

As previously reported last week, access to the hospital and the community health centre has strict access rules and we thank you for your understanding during these challenging times. We once again ask that only 1 visitor to the hospital attend per patient, for no more than an hour at a time, whilst also maintaining a social distance of 1.5m during the hours of 9.30am to 11.30am, or 5pm to 7pm. In addition to this, for our maternity services, visitors are now restricted to the partner only (or equivalent support person) during the maternity admission. Regrettably, no other family is permitted to visit, and as upsetting this is, this directive from the Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer (Communicable Diseases) is given with the best interests of women and babies in mind. 

Our community care services have adapted to the current situation also, with urgent and essential services continuing, and whilst most of our services have had to pull back, our vulnerable clients and most in need will continue to be seen (either directly with strict rules in place) or via telephone or telehealth consulting on a needs basis.  

We understand these are difficult times, and once again thank you for your support and understanding. Should you need it there is support available to help you take care of your mental health during COVID-19, and a starting point may be found at

Prom Country Aged Care – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update 3/4/2020 

PROM Country Aged Care continues to restrict all movements in and out of the facility, until April 15, 2020, although with the current environment this is likely to be extended. We will keep you informed as further developments arise.

We continue to be vigilant in our actions and protect those we care for against the spread of the COVID-19 virus, with 17 Aged Care Facilities across Australia now exposed to the virus. 

Prom Country Aged Care continues to have no cases in the facility or amongst our staff or doctors.  We are also now testing all staff and contractors’ temperatures on entry to the facility.

Our skype, zoom, facetime meetings are providing much joy to the residents and families. We can offer these Monday to Friday during business hours. Please contact the Community Development Team or reception to book a time.

We are currently working to build a visitor room where you can visit your loved one during this crisis. This is currently in planning with builders to commence next week and likelihood of 2 – 3 weeks away from completion. We will keep you informed as to this development and commencement dates for possible visits. 

All residents in the facility have been provided with a flu vaccination on  March 25, 2020.

• ON Saturday, April 4 Foster and Toora Medical Centres had a large flu clinic in the bus lane in front of the Foster Secondary College Gymnasium. We ran this as a car-drive through to adhere to both rules of social distancing and having a maximum number of people in one place. In the end it was an inspired move as the weather was of course the worst we had seen all year (at least until the next day, anyway!).

The clinic went very smoothly and orderly, in no small part to our parking attendants (Bruce and Dick), Nurse Nancy, her band of helpers (Dr Phil, Maxi and Jaime) and the Duursmas who earlier had set up the tents which proved so essential!

We know that there are many who wanted to get their flu shot and missed out this time.

Unfortunately there is a supply issue and we could only do 300, but we will be running other clinics and you will not miss out. We are taking names at the medical centre and will contact you as soon as we have more stock. Again, please see our Facebook page (Foster and Toora Medical Centres) for up to date info.

SGH DoN Paul Greenhalgh appointed as interim CEO

FOSTER’S South Gippsland Hospital (SGH) director of nursing (DoN) Paul Greenhalgh has been appointed as the hospital’s interim chief executive officer, following the retirement and redeployment of outgoing CEO Chris Trotman.

Mr Greenhalgh is already familiar with the position, and at somewhat of an emergency level, too, as he was acting CEO during the Gippsland and south-west Victorian regional health services cyber-security incident on September 30, 2019.

Now Mr Greenhalgh finds himself back in the CEO’s office at the start of his 12-month appointment, right when the global COVID-19 crisis is intensifying.

Ms Trotman left SGH on Friday April 3 to take up the role of chief pandemic officer at Bass Coast Health (BCH) in Wonthaggi and is leading COVID-19 planning and response for the four sub-regional public health services.

Known collectively as the South Gippsland Coast Partnership, the four services are SGH, BCH with the Wonthaggi Hospital, Gippsland Southern Health Service (GSHS) with the Leongatha and Korumburra hospitals, and the Kooweerup Regional Health Service with the Kooweerup hospital.

SGH board chair Sue Pilkington said she and her fellow board members were “just delighted” that Mr Greenhalgh had accepted the interim CEO’s job, which officially began on Saturday April 4, 2020.

“Paul has already demonstrated a very high level of leadership while he was the acting CEO, especially during last year’s cyber-security incident and its effect on our regional health information technology systems,” she said.

“He has also served with distinction for the past 18 months as the hospital’s DoN ever since he came to us from his previous senior management position as the executive director of Bass Coast Health.”

Ms Pilkington said the SGH board had started the process to find a replacement CEO in February 2020 after Ms Trotman had announced her intention to retire.

“As COVID-19 began ramping up around the world the board decided to put the recruitment on hold and to concentrate on keeping SGH and its services stable,” she said.

“We are all so pleased that Paul was already within our organisation with such a lot of specific operational knowledge and experience and that he was prepared to step up as the interim CEO just when he is needed the most.”

SGH’s manager of acute and maternity care Marion Bowron has been appointed as the hospital’s director of nursing and midwifery.

Health services working together against COVID-19

Ms Pilkington and Mr Greenhalgh said the four sub-regional health services of the South Gippsland Coast Partnership were working together in the fight against COVID-19.

“The health services have established an important new collaboration, which has seen us redesigning our services to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our community are supported during this period,” they said.

“There has been some temporary relocation of services, for example SGH is now providing 24/7 maternity, obstetric surgical and acute care services for all women from throughout our sub-region, while all confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients will be directed to BCH’s Wonthaggi Hospital,” Mr Greenhalgh said.

BCH’s sub-acute inpatient services have been transferred to GSHS’s Korumburra and Leongatha hospitals.

Ms Pilkington also serves as the chair of the sub-regional pandemic planning committee, which has not only co-ordinated the responses and functions of the four health services so far but is also continuing to develop a series of “forward thinking” plans.

“We are proud that SGH is playing such a lead role in the sub-region, and while all four health services have had to make some adjustments, the best possible care is available and local communities are being looked after,” she said.

“District nursing services have also been expanded to meet the greater numbers of people being treated in their homes because of the present social distancing requirements.

“I want to shout out to all of our local medical and nursing staff and to thank them for the extraordinary things that they do,” Ms Pilkington said.

“We are asking a lot of our staff and of our colleagues at the Foster and Toora Medical Centres, who continue to give such high-quality care in the most difficult of circumstances.”

For the latest information about coronavirus (COVID-19) in South Gippsland and Bass Coast see Bass Coast Health’s website at www.bass

National Coronaviris (COVID-19) Helpline 1800 020 080 


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