BASS Coast Health (BCH) is well prepared to treat people infected with COVID-19.

Over the last two weeks, BCH staff have engaged in mock exercises at Wonthaggi Hospital to test the team’s systems and processes in responding to COVID-19 infections and a surge in patients, including management of possible complications of infections.

“Bass Coast Health has taken every action possible to ensure our staff are prepared to meet the demands a surge in COVID-19 patients could present,” said BCH CEO Jan Child.

“The mock exercises are preparing staff for what they can expect to encounter in the likely event we will treat COVID-19 patients at Wonthaggi Hospital.”

The mock exercises educated clinical staff about the procedures to follow to ensure the best outcome for a patient. One exercise in the Integrated Cancer Unit was based around the scenario of a chemotherapy patient experiencing cardiac arrest after presenting with COVID-19 symptoms.

Another scenario saw staff respond to a COVID-19 patient whose condition was deteriorating and required a transfer to theatre for intubation.

Medical and nursing staff donned personal protective equipment and were given details of the patient’s prior history and updated information as his condition changed rapidly.

The exercises will continue over the coming weeks and involve staff from nursing, medical, and environmental departments to make the scenarios as realistic as possible, and to ensure staff are ready and able.

Facilitator and senior nurse Kerryn Griffiths said “observing the strong teamwork and advanced clinical care was very encouraging”, as was the “overwhelmingly positive feedback from staff involved”.

As the curve of new COVID-19 cases in Victoria continues to flatten, BCH is now planning for the resumption of usual services such as surgery, while continuing to run services such as outpatient consultations with medical specialists, through telehealth and telephone where it is safer to do so.

Bass Coast Health has also seen an increase in testing in response to the state government’s calls for more testing of people with possible mild symptoms of COVID-19 to help monitor community transmission of the virus.