January 20, 2022

Northern Health now in Pandemic Code Brown status

At midday yesterday, a statewide COVID-19 Pandemic Code Brown was declared for Northern Health, along with other health services in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.

While a normal Code Brown is generally reserved for short duration external emergencies such as natural disasters and mass casualty events, this Pandemic Code Brown requires an extended response, which is expected to last four to six weeks.

The commencement of a Pandemic Code Brown enables our health service to achieve a well-coordinated, entire health service response that adequately manages resources for a surge in patients from an emergency, and to share the load and manage patient flow from a state level.

Jason Amos, Manager Emergency Management, said a Pandemic Code Brown required a different organisational response to a regular Code Brown.

“Normal Code Brown requires immediate actions from staff, including rapid discharge, staff to remain on shift, set up of ED triage areas and walking wounded clinics. These immediate actions are not required for a Pandemic Code Brown,” he explained.

“Existing COVID-19 procedures remain the base structure of a Pandemic Code Brown response. However, recent changes including significant spread of COVID-19 in the community, severe workforce shortages, treating a vast number of patients with COVID-19 who require hospitalisation, as well as other patients with urgent and emergency needs, has meant that we will need to make additional changes.”

Since 7 January, Northern Health has been operating two Incident Management Teams (IMT), seven days a week to better manage the health service’s COVID-19 response. Under the Pandemic Code Brown, IMT will continue.

“The IMT is aware of the requirement for a balance between COVID-19 and business as usual requirements for critical care,” Jason said.

“The IMT will still, as required, implement additional plans to scale down non-critical services to deal with a continued influx of pandemic and non-pandemic patients, supply chain and critical staffing deficiencies.”

“For our staff, there are no immediate actions required to be implemented. Any changes required will be communicated to you by the IMT through your leadership teams.”

This afternoon, we hosted a Pandemic Code Brown Live Event, to provide staff with the opportunity to ask any questions.

To watch the live event, click here.