BASS Coast Health has suspended all routine visits to inpatient areas, and patients attending the emergency department are being discouraged from bringing visitors except in exceptional circumstances.
And patients attending outpatient or Allied Health appointments are not to be accompanied.
Bass Coast Health CEO Jan Child said the directions are effective immediately.
Special requests for visitation can be made to the relevant areas, and if special visiting is approved, it will be for very brief periods only, and for circumstances only such as end of life care or if clinically indicated, Ms Child said.
It follows a significant increase in community transmission of COVID-19.
“This is also not a time to be judgemental towards those people who have been unfortunate enough to be exposed to this highly contagious virus,” Ms Child said.
Ms Child issued the following statement tonight (7pm, Sunday, July 12):
“There has been a significant increase over the past week in the incidence of COVID Community transmissions across Victoria, and the Bass Coast and South Gippsland Shires are not immune; over the past two days we know that there has been a new community transmission listed in South Gippsland, and 2 new community transmissions in the Bass Coast Shire.
“Bass Coast Health wishes to confirm once again that there are currently no COVID patients at Bass Coast Health sites (Wonthaggi Hospital or Phillip Island). Also, to date there have been no BCH staff members test positive. However, just as we predicted several days ago, there is a likelihood that our region will have positive cases now and into the future – we are not immune to community transmission.
“It’s also important to note that Bass Coast Health will not always know of every positive case in Bass Coast and South Gippsland Shires; it is also true to say that in the interests of privacy and confidentiality, we will never confirm detail of cases when they do exist.
“To complement the directions of the Chief Health Officer, and in keeping with our usual cautious approach, Bass Coast Health has made a decision to put additional visitor restrictions in place across all areas services to reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) entering our service. We know that all patients are vulnerable, and we also know that staff are increasingly susceptible to contracting the virus by community transmission. As such, effective immediately;
1. All routine visits to all inpatient areas are suspended.
2. Patients attending the ED will be discouraged from bringing visitors except in exceptional circumstances.
3. Patients attending Outpatient or Allied Health appointments are not to be accompanied.
“Special requests for visitation can be made to the relevant areas, and if special visiting is approved, it will be for very brief periods only, and for circumstances only such as end of life care or if clinically indicated. We have put these measures in place to keep our patients and residents and staff safe while supporting the provision of the highest level of care and we thank you for your cooperation.
“The health of our community is a priority during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We ask that people who are vulnerable or unwell or who have medical appointments or Chronic Health conditions, please, continue to seek treatment and support and do not cancel appointments. We strongly encourage people to continue seeking healthcare and we will be diligent at keeping our services and staff safe so that you are safe to receive your care. Bass Coast Health is well prepared and we are confident that we can keep you safe.
“We understand that community members will be anxious about local community transmission. I also want to remind everyone that this situation is extremely serious. This pandemic is already seeing increased numbers of impacted community members, increased hospitalisations and deaths. The stakes are very high and everyone has a part to play in getting us safely through to the other side.
We implore everyone to be vigilant about doing the right thing which includes:
- Decreasing your face to face interactions and contact with other people.
- Staying at home at every opportunity.
- Avoiding crowds.
- Practise thorough hand hygiene by washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water, being sure to wash the webbing of your hands and underneath your finger nails – as many times a day as you can with sanitising in between.
- Practise physical distancing by keeping at least 1.5m distance between you and others.
- Wear a cloth mask or a disposable mask when you are out and about or interacting with people.
- Don’t hug, kiss and shake hands.
- Don’t go to work if you are unwell and work from home if you can.
- Avoid touching things that others touch and sanitise your hands wherever you can.
- Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of COVID and look out for these in yourself, and also within family and friends. The symptoms include fever, chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, and loss of sense of smell or taste.
- If you have even the slightest hint of being unwell, stay at home until you can organise to be tested, even with the mildest COVID-19 symptoms.
- Importantly, if you have any symptoms, stay home and get tested. Testing is available at Wonthaggi Medical Centre Monday to Friday (book by phoning 0492 036 568 or online: at hotdoc.com.au, Foster Medical Centre Monday to Friday (Ph: 5682 2088), at the Phillip Island Health Hub (24 hours a day) and Wonthaggi Hospital (10am-5pm, 7 days a week).
- Do not leave your home while you are awaiting your test result.
“This is a time when our community needs to stand together. This is not the time for people to blame others or throw vitriol at each other over social media or in public. This is not about people who come to visit or people who live here. Everyone is vulnerable and everyone needs to do the right thing.
“This is also not a time to be judgemental towards those people who have been unfortunate enough to be exposed to this highly contagious virus. Please understand that most people who become positive, may have been asymptomatic, and many will not even know they have been exposed, let alone positive. These people, who we call cases, are all good people like you and I, who will be worried and scared; they deserve to have their privacy, and they deserve to have our support as they recover. This is a time for us to demonstrate that we are a kind and generous spirited community, and that we care for each other.
“I am confident that if we work together, and support each other, and do the right thing, we will get to the other side of this pandemic in good shape. Thank you to large majority of you who do the right thing every day, and thank you for your support to Bass Coast Health staff as we work to keep our patients, residents, staff and community safe.”