Dr. Sarah Whitelaw said hospitals were overburdened with a large number of cases of coronavirus as well as stable elderly people transitioning to hospital. The greatest concern was the number of hospital staff contracting the infection, she said.
“At the onset of the widespread, we thought that our issue was about the care beds and the number of ventilators we had … we were all blindfolded by the reality that our issue is the labor constrain,” Dr. Whitelaw said to 7.30. “I agree that the amount of infections in health workers is a major concern.”
Since the pandemic started, over 1,000 medical staff in Victoria have tested positively on COVID-19. “This is our biggest concern in the next few weeks in Victoria and needs a fast response,” she said.
The healthcare system was under “great strain,” said Dr. Whitelaw, an emergency health doctor in Melbourne, who is on the board of the Australian medical association in Victoria. “In a few weeks, we will be running out of resources in the Victorian health system, if the number of cases will not fall … and we keep bringing all our elderly people into our healthcare systems directly.”
Although the healthy residents were in the hospital, they said that healthy residents were in the hospital because their nursing homes were not overwhelmed. “We must transfer aged care residents as soon as it is obviously difficult for an elderly care facility to take care of them safely but keeping them in the hospital system is not a reply,” she said.
On Wednesday, the Victorian Government declared that elected surgery would be stopped until further notice in regional Victoria. “The decision is disappointing but very necessary to safeguard sufficient capacity in our health system,” said Premier Daniel Andrews.
Dr. Whitelaw said it was important to interrupt an optional procedure, “but we’re mindful that we can’t do it for too long.” “We will keep this transition as short as possible to our normal care systems,” she said.
Dr. Sanjaya Senanayake, an expert on infectious disease, said that the move to stage 4 was a clear recognition by the Victorian authorities that the system had failed to cope while lock down stage 3 was effective.
“If it was regulated and they were satisfied with the way things went, they wouldn’t have gone through Stage 4 constraints and all the difficulties that it could bring.
“On average, if we say, one case generates 10 interactions, we look at approximately 7000 on a day like today.” He said that while the health system was “definitely stressed,” it was still able to “remove this.”
“It’s definitely a rough time, but it’s not a permanent point of harm.”
The spokesperson for Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services said, “Our hospitals have been planning since January for coronavirus, building additional capacities and ensuring that we have plenty of rooms, equipment, and PPE to manage patient surge.”
“With good fortune, we haven’t needed the additional capacity yet. We don’t want all this extra capacity and we’ll save lives if we stay home and protect the health system.
“All health care providers can access the surge employees of Victoria when needed, which becomes more and more necessary as there are more and more cases. The husband of Dr. Whitelaw is also a doctor who treats patients with COVID-19 and she said the two are very mindful of the risks. They announced their plans last week.
“We have two children and we can’t really risk making both of us infected by coronavirus or probably dying.
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