March 16, 2020

CE Update: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

At Northern Health we have been focused on our response to COVID-19 including daily incident team meetings to ensure we are best placed to respond.

We have established an Incident Control Centre and are working with DHHS, Health Purchasing Victoria and other health services on our collective response and how to best utilise resources across the state (e.g. Ventilators, PPE and consumables).

The Incident Management Team is gathering the best experts, both internally and externally, to manage this evolving situation. During this time we need to defer to the experts – whether clinical or non-clinical.

As you will have seen over the weekend, an enhanced response to COVID-19 was announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday. These measures were agreed on a phone conference with state and territories Premiers and First Ministers yesterday afternoon, and include:

  • Anyone arriving in Australia from overseas will be required to self-isolate for 14 days
  • Banning all cruise ships from foreign ports arriving in Australia for 30 days
  • Banning gatherings of over 500 people.

There was also emphasis placed upon the importance of social-distancing, including encouraging people to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres and not engage in handshakes. There will also be increased restrictions in regards to nursing homes and most schools and universities will remain open at this stage.

In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews has this morning declared a state of emergency in Victoria, effective from 12 pm Monday, March 16, for four weeks in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

This is addition to the Victorian Government’s $60 million announcement to fast-track more than 7000 procedures in the coming weeks, to free up capacity in hospitals as we continue to prepare for an increase of COVID-19 patients.

We have been running a Fever clinic located in Clinic E Northern Hospital open between 9 am and 8 pm. The clinic has been operating for just over a week, with almost 700 people seen.

To date, Northern Health has had one person test positive to COVID-19. This was a person who recently returned from overseas. All correct processes were followed, and the person is currently at home in self-isolation.

Northern Health is planning for how we best continue to sustain critical services whilst protecting our staff and patients. With an emphasis on social distancing measures, meetings are now limited to 15 people or less in one room. We are reviewing what this means for our services, and is looking at multiple solutions including relocating specialist clinics and better utilisation of telehealth services. We will keep you updated on these discussions and outcomes.

Your safety and wellbeing is our priority, and we thank you for your professionalism and understanding during this time.

Siva Sivarajah

Chief Executive