Kilmore District Hospital, Northern Health and Seymour Health have launched or will launch in-home health support programs for residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 but do not require hospitalisation.

Kilmore District Hospital, KDH, launched its COVID-positive pathway on Monday – a program run by Goulburn Valley Health Public Health Unit.

COVID-positive patients will be assigned to hospitals based on the severity of their condition, for example, one that could be serious will be monitored by Goulburn Valley Health’s infectious diseases specialist.

“[KDH] is more likely to be managing the 70 per cent of people who don’t need to go to hospital,” KDH chief executive David Naughton said.

If assigned to KDH, there’s no need for patients to reach out to the healthcare provider, a dedicated nursing team will contact them once the positive test is confirmed and make contact with the individual or family daily to check on symptoms. The patient will also be given devices to self-measure oxygen levels, in case they require further care.

Mr Naughton said they were expecting significant demand as cases in the Mitchell Shire rise.

“There are 16,000 positive cases in Victoria – we won’t have 16,000 patients but we’re expecting to have a significant number, but won’t know until [later this] week,” he said.

Northern Health offers a telephone-monitoring program that helps to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions of mild COVID-19 cases and ensures isolation protocols are followed to limit community spread.

Northern Health has one of the state’s biggest COVID-19 wards, with the telephone program experiencing increasing daily demand.

“Last year, the COVID Monitor Program saw 900 patients over a three-month period, which at that time was the highest in Australia,” Hospital Without Walls divisional director Johanna Hayes said.

“In the past three weeks, we have gone from 20 patients to now over 2100 patients.”

Patients are allocated to Northern Health by the North Eastern Public Health Unit and will be contacted when they test positive.

People in the program will complete a daily self-check survey to let staff know how they are feeling. Staff will then contact people based on their symptoms and if they need assistance staying at home and isolating.

The program operates seven days a week, and provides people with health advice if symptoms worsen and how to get food and essential items during isolation. Support is also available for families with children, and interpreters are on hand.

Seymour Health is working towards establishing a home monitoring program for low risk COVID-19 positive client care in the home as part of the COVID-19+ Care and Monitoring in the Home program.

Staff from the Seymour Health COVID-19 testing clinic have been undertaking testing and welfare checks in the community for members living in a household with a positive member.

For people with exceptional circumstances and who cannot get to hospital for a COVID-19 test, Seymour Health also offers testing for people at their home.

Testing at home applies to Seymour and the surrounding areas and is conditional upon specific eligibility. People can find out more by contacting Seymour Health’s testing clinic on 0436 345 573.

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