It is feared that one of WA’s largest regional hospitals may not be able to cope with a COVID-19 outbreak once the borders reopen on February 5.
A leaked letter from the Southwest Clinical Staff Association to Health Department CEO David Russell-Weisz warns that the hospital is struggling with critically low staffing levels. Western australian reports.
Doctors said emergency care could be “significantly compromised” during the Christmas period and beyond due to understaffing.
The letter also said that nurses were overworked and morale was low due to a “critical shortage” of nursing staff at the hospital.
The hospital is struggling with a 50 percent deficit of consultants and a 25 percent deficit of registrars.
Dr. Russell-Weisz and WA Country Health Service (WACHS) Chairman of the Board Neale Fong responded with a public statement saying that the opinion expressed in the letter that rural hospitals were ill-equipped to deal with COVID did not he represented the majority opinion of the general medical workforce. .
“This position has been reiterated by some senior physicians at the facility, most of whom are part of the Southwest Clinical Staff Association, who have stated that they were not consulted about the letter, nor given the opportunity. to review the content “. said his statement.
“Despite this, I (Dr. Neale Fong) contacted the author of the letter to discuss the concerns raised, and I (Dr. DJ Russell-Weisz) also responded.
“Suggestions that the WA country is not ready to meet the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic undermines the continued dedication and commitment of every healthcare worker in the Western Australia region.”
WACHS said regional hospitals in WA were prepared to deal with the virus through the use of negative pressure isolation rooms, portable lobbies, air purifiers, temporary patient isolation rooms and ventilation hoods.
WACHS said staff had completed 155 COVID drills and 35 elevator transfers over a four-month period from August and November this year.
“The organization has also had practice managing COVID-positive patients through its hospitals, that is, in the Pilbara, where staff have interacted with suspicious and positive seafarers before,” WACHS said.
“At Geraldton, our teams learned some lessons after a protocol violation, but more importantly, it means we’ve been able to learn, refine, and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
But Opposition health spokeswoman Libby Mettam said the WA government had “dropped the ball” by hiring enough equipment, but not enough specialist staff.
“We know that our regional hospitals are particularly vulnerable, with great concern throughout the country’s health service for the lack of personnel, which has already caused some services and hospital opening hours to be reduced or cut,” he said.
New Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson will soon be sworn in as WA’s new Health Minister, replacing outgoing Minister Roger Cook.