COVID prompts hospital service changes

Werribee Mercy Hospital. Photo by Damjan Janevski. 209276_10

Mercy Health has welcomed the introduction of the Pandemic Code Brown across Victorian hospitals to assist with the increasing amount of COVID-19 cases.

The state government announced on Tuesday, January 18 that Pandemic Code Brown would allow hospitals to arrange services to free up more staff, including the delivery of outpatient services outside the hospital, and the rapid offload of ambulance patients at emergency departments to get paramedics back on the road as soon as possible.

Hospitals can also choose to redeploy staff to work in areas of the highest clinical priority.

Mercy Health chief executive – health services, Adjunct Professor Jason Payne, said Werribee Mercy was “focusing our resources on the most acutely unwell patients in our hospital”.

“Like all Victorian hospitals, Werribee Mercy Hospital is facing increasing demand while the rate of COVID-19 is so high across the state,” he said.

“A Code Brown enables us to ask for our staff who are on extended leave to consider returning to work sooner.

“We are also considering redeploying some of our support services staff to non-clinical, administrative roles in our hospital to free up staff in non-clinical roles who may be clinically trained.

“Some outpatient appointments may be rescheduled or changed to telehealth appointments over the next few weeks and some patients may be cared for at home or in community settings rather than in hospital.”

Adj Professor Payne said all hospital staff were “working very hard during these times of increased demand to continue to take care of our patients and clients”.

“We expect the next few weeks will be difficult but everyone in the health system is working together to ensure we can provide care to those who need it most urgently,” he said.

As of 6.20pm on Wednesday, January 19, there had been 11,307 COVID cases reported via PCR (a polymerase chain reaction test) and 9772 “probable” cases via RAT (rapid antigen tests) across the state within 24 hours.

Fifteen Victorians with the virus have passed away.

A total of 1206 people are in hospital with the illness, across the state.

In the past 24 hours, there have been 669 new active COVID-19 cases reported in Wyndham.