THE Mildura community is better protected against a potential outbreak or second wave of coronavirus as a result of a new regional pandemic plan.
The Loddon Mallee Cluster Plan combines the resources of 18 public health services, two private hospitals, five community health services, two bush nursing centres, Ambulance Victoria and the Primary Health Network.
The plan outlines the effective treatment and movement of patients if localised outbreaks of COVID-19 occur. In a worst-case outbreak scenario, the resources of the Loddon Mallee Region include a daily capacity for more than 80 Intensive Care Ventilated beds, approximately 900 general ward beds and close to 400 Emergency Department presentations.
As part of the plan, health services are classified on their capacity to care for COVID-19 patients at different stages of an outbreak.
Bendigo Health, Mildura Base Hospital(MBH) and St John of God Hospital Bendigo are the intensive care hubs for the region. Echuca and Swan Hill hospitals have higher level acute medical care while the remaining 14 rural health services provide acute and community-based care for COVID-19 patients.
MBH Director of Intensive Care Dr Alison Walker, PICTURED said the Loddon Mallee Cluster Plan was an important step forward in protecting the wider community against COVID-19.
“In Mildura, our expanded capacity includes a quadrupling of our ventilated bed capacity at MBH from four to 16 beds, and the plan ensures there are eight additional beds available at Mildura Health Private Hospital,” Dr Walker said.
“The plan guides us on how we can adapt our models of care during a pandemic, and how we can combine right across our region to ensure the best care of patients,” she said.
Mildura Health Private Hospital CEO Marcus Guthrie, PICTURED said there was also an agreement to use further beds at MHPH if they are needed.
“We all agree that combining our efforts ensures the best possible use of resources during a pandemic and from the outset Mildura Base and Mildura Health Private Hospital have taken that approach,” Mr Guthrie said.
“The Loddon Mallee Cluster Plan is seeing hospitals and health services across the Loddon Mallee region forming an alliance to ensure we provide our whole region with the best possible care,” he said.
Dr Walker said the Loddon Mallee Cluster Plan also allowed for a sharing of services for high-risk patients in areas like oncology, dialysis and maternity should a localised outbreak impact service delivery for a specific health service.
“The cluster plan is an additional piece of work done to prepare the region for COVID-19,” Dr Walker said.
“It’s only through our community’s support that we have been able to prevent local outbreaks so far and we’ve been able to flatten the curve. That’s given us all time to continue refining our plans, and we’re grateful for that.”
Mr Guthrie appealed to everyone to continue ‘doing the three’.
“That’s washing hands regularly, continuing to practice social distancing and downloading the COVID-19 app, if you haven’t already,” he said.
“We’re all working together to support our community, and everyone in our community has a role to play,” he said.
The Loddon Mallee Cluster Plan also provides information on COVID-19 assessment (screening and testing) clinics and best-practice approaches to outbreaks in residential care facilities.