By Jackson Russell
The Kilmore and District Hospital has put in place several measures to ensure its services can still be delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hospital is still operating as normal, including urgent care, maternity, inpatient medical and aged care services.
However, as per government directives, elective surgeries are not taking place.
Chief executive Sue Race said the team was working hard to deliver its services in line with expert and government advice.
“We’ve got our own internal infection control consultants working hard supporting all the effort we’re putting in,” she said.
“We’re also very focused on looking after our staff and making sure we’re all attending to our own health and wellbeing.”
The hospital is fully set up for COVID-19 testing through its urgent care service, but anyone presenting symptoms should call ahead on 5734 2110 before coming to the hospital.
“We’re screening everyone as they come in so it’s safe for them to have their tests or they can have it in their car if they prefer,” Ms Race said.
Urgent care has also been separated into patients with respiratory symptoms and other urgent medical needs to prevent infection.
The hospital is utilising telehealth services where possible for follow-up appointments with patients, and its nursing services are still visiting homes to make sure all their patients are safe and being looked after.
Visiting hours have been restricted at the hospital and its aged care facilities, Dianella Hostel and Caladenia Nursing Home.
Hospital patients can only have one visitor at a time between 4pm and 8pm with a two-hour limit and no children under 16 years old are allowed.
Visiting hours are more restricted in the aged care facilities, with one visitor per day for a maximum of 30 minutes between 3pm and 5pm at Caladenia. Visitors are welcome between 11am and 12pm or 3pm and 4pm at Dianella.
Ms Race said every person who entered the hospital or its aged care facilities, including staff, were being screened upon entry with a general health screen and a temperature check.
“The other big focus is making sure the people in our aged care facilities are being protected, so we have restricted visiting hours,” she said.
“We’re being very vigilant and diligent in making sure we keep our residents safe.”
In place of visiting hours, the hospital has introduced Skype bookings to help residents stay connected to their family and the community, and has increased the hours of its leisure and lifestyle team to keep residents occupied.
“We’re trying really hard to connect people in hospital or residential care with their family or the broader community,” Ms Race said.
Ms Race said the changes in operations have presented a learning opportunity for the hospital.
“We’re learning a lot and there are a lot of things we’re doing differently that we’ll keep doing afterward that have improved the care we provide,” she said.
“We’re working on how we continue to develop our skills using telehealth for the long-term. I’m hoping there will be something coming out of that.”