ERH COVID-19 update

Not over yet: Echuca Regional Health has updated the community about the current impact of COVID-19 on the hospital. Photo by Luke Hemer

As we edge closer to a winter with fewer restrictions this year, staff from Echuca Regional Health have provided an update on the current impact of COVID-19 on the hospital.

ERH executive director of COVID co-ordination Michelle Shingles said there had been a significant increase in patients being monitored in the Virtual Home Monitoring Program.

“The number of patients monitored by this team has almost doubled in the last two weeks,” Ms Shingles said.

“The people who are being monitored by this team are well enough to stay at home but due to age, pre-existing disease or severity of symptoms, they just need a little extra support.”

ERH remains a tier one COVID-19 streaming service, which means that staff can admit any COVID-19 positive patients from within the region, except those who require intensive care.

In terms of positive patients who had been admitted into ERH, Ms Shingles said the number had remained steady since ERH began accepting positive patients in January.

“We typically have around one to two COVID-19 patients in the hospital each day, but in the past, we have had instances of up to five patients,” she said.

Ms Shingles explained that patients who attended the emergency department due to worsening symptoms were, more often than not, seen by a doctor, prescribed treatment and sent home to recover.

“Patients are only admitted to an inpatient bed if they are particularly unwell and need inpatient treatment,” she said.

“We do have the ability to take on more, if demand increases.”

Ms Shingles said although restrictions had eased, it was still important to maintain good hygiene practices, socially distance where possible, stay away from people who were symptomatic and wear a mask in confined and uncontrolled situations.

“It is not too late to get vaccinated or book in for a booster either,” she said.

Ms Shingles explained that even if you were symptomatic but had been testing negative on a rapid antigen test, you could still have COVID-19.

“There is a significant number of false negative results with a RAT. It is recommended that you still take a PCR test in these instances so that you can clear yourself completely of having the virus,” she said.

ERH recommended that people also considered getting the flu vaccine, as influenza is circulating at the moment.

Anyone who is unwell is advised to stay home, rest, drink plenty fluids and take simple analgesics.

People suffering from severe COVID-19 symptoms have been advised to contact 000 if any of the follow symptoms have presented or intensified: severe shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, becoming short of breath when resting, chest pain that is constant or severe, lips or face turning blue, fainting or feeling like you will faint, agitation, confusion or severe drowsiness.

Individuals with moderate symptoms should contact a GP or COVID Positive Pathways program if they are already enrolled, the National Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 020 080 or Nurse on Call on 1300 606 024.