SA: Covid Care Centres at Royal Adelaide Hospital as state braces for cases

One state is preparing for infections once its borders open, setting up centres to try to keep cases from being hospitalised.

South Australia is preparing for Covid-19 cases once its borders reopen in less than four weeks by creating Covid Care Centres where infected people can get medical attention and avoid hospitalisation.

Premier Steven Marshall announced on Thursday the state would be the first in the nation to establish the dedicated centres that would give positive patients specialist services if required.

He said about 85 per cent of people who caught the virus would be cared for in their own home and use the home quarantine app that had daily symptom checks.

If they required further medical assistance, a rapid response care team — led by nurses — would be able to refer them directly to a hospital or Covid Care Centre to be treated.

The first centre will be established at the Royal Adelaide Hospital next to the emergency department, estimated to cost about $5.5m.

Further announcements will be made in coming weeks about others popping up across the state.

Mr Marshall said the investment was included in the state’s $123m package aimed to prepare its healthcare system before the borders open.

“We announced our road map to lifting those border restrictions … now we’re rolling out all the necessary steps to make sure we are Covid-ready in South Australia,” he said.

SA Health deputy chief public health officer Emily Kirkpatrick said lessons learnt from NSW and Victoria showed the majority of Covid positive patients could be managed at home with appropriate supports.

But she said the centres would allow for newer treatments to be delivered, like IV antibody infusion treatments, chest X-rays and other forms of intervention, which would reduce the likelihood of patients being admitted to hospital or an intensive care unit.

“Our initial modelling suggests we would have a capacity of around 50 patients a day across the state … (but) we are not expecting huge numbers at the beginning,” Dr Kirkpatrick said.

“We are seeing this as an opportunity for people to remain in their homes and receive appropriate care with those escalation pathways so people go to the most appropriate place.”

It was announced earlier this week that SA will open its borders to fully vaccinated travellers from November 23, once 80 per cent of its eligible population is fully vaccinated.

Restrictions are set to ease further once 90 per cent is double jabbed.

Originally published as South Australia braces for potential virus surge with Covid Care Centres to keep cases out of hospital

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Covid-19 Victoria: Concern growing cases will place strain on health system

A raft of restrictions will ease from Friday in Victoria, but questions have been raised about one concerning issue.

Victoria is bracing to open up further within days, but the new-found freedoms expected on Friday have raised questions about how the state’s hospital system will manage.

With the state set to reach its 80 per cent double-dose vaccination targets, Melbourne will finally come into line with regional Victoria, enjoying no restrictions on travel, no masks required outdoors, bigger outdoor gatherings, hospitality expanding and entertainment and retail to resume.

Despite vaccination rates rising, authorities have repeatedly warned cases will rise along with hospitalisations as the state opens up, placing pressure on the healthcare system.

“Nobody wants to be in intensive care,” Alfred Hospital intensive care unit director Associate Professor Steve McGloughlin told ABC News.

“It is a tough thing to go through for anyone, as much as we try to make it as dignified and caring as possible.

“People that get this disease, it can be pretty brutal. You don’t want to get it.”

He said some patients had been in ICU for as many as 100 days while the pandemic played out.

“Once you are critically ill, your vital organs are being looked after by machines, you have a nurse at your bedside the whole time and it is quite extreme – you can’t imagine how terrifying that is as a patient,” he said.

“Caring for people during that time has been a really challenging thing for our staff, (but) we are constantly amazed by the bravery and robustness of patients that they are able to go through all of this.”

Victorian ICU wards have been flooded with patients in recent months as the Delta variant tears through homes and communities.

There is now a limited number of trained staff who can look after patients, with the problem spanning all corners of the state.

Melbourne’s Alfred Health normally has 46 ICU patients but is taking care of 60 people with the virus following a spike in case numbers.

“While we have good infrastructure and beds it is really tough for the staff and the work that staff have to do to look after those patients,” Dr McGloughlin said.

“I think we have great faith in our public health clinics and the work they are doing, but in Victoria at the moment there are about 150 patients in ICU that are infectious and another 40 or 50 patients that are no longer infectious – that is about half the ICU beds.

“That ever being sustained is a real problem for the health system.

“We hope that vaccination will bring those numbers down and we can control this, but my job and the job of my colleagues is to plan for the worst.”

Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton issued a stark warning for people to get vaccinated, saying “everyone will be exposed to the virus”.

Professor Sutton said following Covid protocols such as mask wearing, checking in and physical distancing would be crucial in the coming months as more people enjoyed social outings.

“As we start to reopen, there will be more Covid in the community really than at any other point in time,” he said.

“Many of those people will have mild illness because they‘re fully vaccinated.

“Many of those settings will have fully vaccinated people, but recognising that children will also be in those places and some exempt individuals will be in those places and that getting vaccinated doesn’t mean that you’re absolutely guaranteed not to get the virus.”

Originally published as Covid-19 Victoria: Concern growing cases will place strain on health system

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