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Hospitals increase testing

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By Jackson Russell

MITCHELL Shire hospitals are reinstating COVID-19 restrictions as the second lockdown takes effect, while an outbreak at the Northern Hospital has caused a reduction to its services.

The Kilmore and District Hospital and Seymour Health both continue to conduct COVID-19 testing for anyone presenting flu-like symptoms associated with the virus.

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Kilmore has established a more formalised testing clinic while Seymour has established a new drive-through testing clinic in anticipation of increased demand. Both require bookings before attending the clinics.

The Kilmore hospital has also tightened the precautions that were in place during the first round of stage three restrictions, requiring masks for anyone beside patients in beds, including all staff, visitors and outpatients.

The hospital’s aged care facilities will be restricted again, with limited visiting time, temperature screening and masks required.

All services remain open at The Kilmore and District Hospital, including elective surgery, but chief executive Sue Race said the hospital would review the need for elective surgeries based on advice from the Department of Health.

“We encourage people to stay home, listen to the advice from the chief health officer and only go out for the four reasons. We’re also here as a resource if anyone needs information and we’re working with local GPs and hospitals across Mitchell Shire collectively,” she said.

Seymour Health has suspended its elective surgeries while its aged care facility Barrabill House can only be accessed by essential staff and health professionals.

Chief executive Ward Steet said he was proud of how staff were rising to meet the challenge following the announcement of six weeks of stage three restrictions for Mitchell Shire.

“Despite the additional pressures of rapid and constantly changing information, our health service has been extremely agile in its response and ability to adapt,” he said.

“We continue to provide our community with the highest level of care and access to up-to-date information and we appreciate your assistance, and understanding during this challenging time.”

The Northern Hospital’s emergency department remains open following several staff cases of COVID-19.

A Northern Health spokesperson said the hospital had reduced services and some ambulances were being temporarily diverted to other hospitals.

“The emergency department will undergo continuous deep cleaning for the next two weeks and close contacts are being identified and quarantined. All staff in the emergency department are being tested as a precaution,” the spokesperson said.

“People requiring urgent care should attend the emergency department, however, people with minor, less-urgent conditions should seek medical advice from their general practitioner in the first instance.

“Visitors to the hospital have also been further restricted as a precaution.”

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