A fever clinic has been established in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast at the Caloundra Health Service to test for people for the coronavirus. Dr Sandra Peters is Clinical Lead at the Fever Clinic in Caloundra. The Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service is prepared to triple its emergency capacity if needed. Photo: John McCutcheon
A fever clinic has been established in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast at the Caloundra Health Service to test for people for the coronavirus. Dr Sandra Peters is Clinical Lead at the Fever Clinic in Caloundra. The Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service is prepared to triple its emergency capacity if needed. Photo: John McCutcheon

EDs could triple in capacity in pandemic response

EMERGENCY departments are being readied to be tripled in capacity and intensive care units doubled, as part of local preparations to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service chief executive Adjunct Professor Naomi Dwyer

said preparations had started in January, and the region's incident management team was activated in February after the Coast's first local COVID-19 patient.

Prof Dwyer said they'd been preparing to "triple our emergency capacity and double our ICU capacity" and fever clinics had been in place for weeks at four facilities: Sunshine Coast University Hospital, Caloundra Health Service's Minor Injury and Illness Clinic, Nambour General Hospital and Gympie Hospital.

She said the Sunshine Coast University Hospital had been built "to expand" and the capacity, equipment and staffing was there to "significantly expand our inpatient beds and ICU capacity".

Virtual wards were also being expanded through services like Hospital in the Home, and non-urgent elective surgeries and outpatient appointments were being rescheduled, allowing for medical, nursing and allied health staff to be redeployed to coronavirus efforts.

Chief Executive Sunshine Coast Health Service, Adjunct Professor Naomi Dwyer at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.
Chief Executive Sunshine Coast Health Service, Adjunct Professor Naomi Dwyer at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital.

Prof Dwyer said the plan was for SCUH to remain the location for all COVID-19 positive patients to be hospitalised and treated, while the health service would also work closely with local private hospitals.

In the March edition of the Sunshine Coast Local Medical Association's newsletter, SCHHS clinical director of infectious disease Dr Keat Choong said the coronavirus incident management team met daily with Queensland Health and other services.

Dr Choong said he was personally in regular contact with infectious disease colleagues around the country and in other hospitals, to ensure the highest safety for patients, staff and the community.

"SCHHS is well prepared to keep our community safe, I also urge the public to play their part," Dr Choong's comments read in the newsletter.

"Be mindful of the simple measures we can all take to protect each other, for example hand hygiene, staying home if you are unwell and cough etiquette."

He pointed out that most COVID-19 cases were mild and he stressed the importance of the influenza vaccination this year.



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