With more than 2700 cases of COVID-19 in the Southern Highlands, a spotlight has been shone on how hospitals in the community are coping.
Last year, the Southern Highland News revealed that Bowral and District Hospital would remain a COVID-19 free hospital.
As the spread of COVID continues, the Southern Highland News can reveal that residents with COVID-19 will receive emergency treatment at Bowral and District Hospital, which falls under the South Western Sydney Local Health District.
Meanwhile, Southern Highlands Private Hospital, owned by Ramsay Health Care, has been assisting NSW Health with the public COVID-19 health response.
A South Western Sydney Local Health District spokesperson said 95 per cent of COVID-19 positive patients across NSW were managing their recovery safely at home or in the community.
"Bowral and District Hospital is continuing to provide care for patients with COVID-19 in the Emergency Department," they said.
"Any COVID-positive patients requiring admission are transferred to another hospital for care.
"The networked hospital system in NSW ensures patients can be transferred or redirected to other hospitals where necessary, including private hospitals.
"Patients who present as COVID-positive to Bowral and District Hospital's ED are isolated in a segregated area away from non-COVID patients to limit transmission."
To help ease the pressure on the public health system, a Southern Highlands Private Hospital spokesperson said they were currently treating public patients "so that the public system has a greater capacity to care for a surge in COVID patients."
"This includes performing elective day surgical procedures in specialties including ENT and urology, with ophthalmology surgeries expected to commence in the next few weeks," they said.
"Elective surgery restrictions are currently in place across all NSW hospitals, including at Southern Highlands Private Hospital, to create capacity for the health system to treat COVID patients.
"We continue to perform Category 1 and urgent Category 2 procedures on both private and public patients to ensure that timely, high-quality health treatments are available to all patients in need."
The Southern Highlands Private Hospital spokesperson said that throughout the pandemic, the two hospitals had worked cohesively to minimise elective surgery waitlists.
"Public elective surgery cases have been performed in specialties including orthopaedics, ophthalmology, ENT and urology in addition to the usual services for oncology and haematology," they said.
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As pressure continues to mount on healthcare staff, Bowral and District Hospital and Southern Highlands Private Hospital have assured the public that they can manage any surge.
The SWSLHD spokesperson said Bowral and District Hospital had a workforce surge and demand management plans in place to respond to COVID-19.
"The safety of our staff is of utmost importance. All staff, including those in the ED, are trained in infection control and wear appropriate personal protection equipment," they said.
"The hospital provides rapid antigen testing for staff as needed."
A Southern Highlands Private Hospital spokesperson said several staff members had been redeployed to the public system to assist with patient care and had a comprehensive pandemic management plan in place.
"The plan is designed to safely care for patients and protect health care workers," they said.
"Our measures include rigorous screening protocols, PPE usage, increased cleaning, and a 100 per cent staff vaccination rate.
"While we currently do not have COVID positive patients in our hospital, our pandemic management plan does include processes for managing any suspected COVID patients who are required to be admitted to hospital for urgent medical care that is non-COVID related.
"All our actions are implemented with patient and staff safety as our top priority, and in conjunction with our national clinical governance unit, COVID-19 response team, and federal and state governments."
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Journalist at the Southern Highland News.
Journalist at the Southern Highland News.
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