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  • Writer's pictureJack Ward

Health service prepared for positive tests

EAST Grampians Health Service has implemented new changes and says if someone is to test positive for COVID-19 and needs care, they will be transferred to Ballarat.

The organisation has once again scaled back elective surgery to 75 per cent capacity, implemented mandatory face masks for all visitors and introduced designated testing hours as Victoria’s case numbers continue to rise.

PHOTO: East Grampians Health Service (Jack Ward/Ararat Advocate)

EGHS chief executive, Andrew Freeman, said staff are uneasy as they keep an eye on the possibility of positive results following the school holiday period.

“There was a lot of visitors in the two weeks during school holidays to our region and I suppose that's raised anxiety. I think we're all sort of waiting to see if any COVID-19 positives arise as a result of that,” he said.

“It's a real possibility. That's why I think there's some anxiousness, not just here at work, more generally in the community.”

Mr Freeman said he has been very pleased with the community’s response and adoption of new measures introduced to protect staff and patients at the health service.

Around 150 COVID-19 tests were conducted last week, up to 30 each day, and all have had a negative result.

“We've certainly seen an increase in testing over the last three weeks in particular,” he said.

“I think it’s most probably representative of the community listening to the message that if they're not well, to get tested, which is a positive thing.”

Testing is now taking place in a separate area of the hospital between the busiest times of 1:30pm and 3pm to streamline the process.

Although Ararat has no active cases, Mr Freeman assured residents that health services in the Grampians have a region cluster plan ready to enact if that changes.

“If someone was to become positive, initially they would get transferred to Ballarat for their care,” he said.

“If Ballarat was to be inundated, we certainly do have plans in place where we would keep COVID positive patients.”

He said it’s important to monitor the numbers daily, keeping them as minimal as possible so the system is not put under stress.

“I can't predict the numbers but I'm confident based on numbers at the moment that the Grampians, as a region, will be able to cope with the numbers,” he said.

The service is open to accommodating patients from Melbourne and Ballarat under a Department of Health and Human Services plan if the metropolitan services can’t cope.

The number of Victorians in Melbourne hospitals, ICU and on ventilators has grown considerably this week and is expected to increase even further as positive patients deteriorate.

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