Outbreak Management Update 10 April 2020

10 April 2020
Prof. Tony Lawler, Tasmanian Chief Medical Officer

Outbreak management update

Staff at the North West Regional Hospital who have worked in either the medical or surgical wards since 27 March 2020 will be quarantined for the next 14 days as part of a multi-faceted coronavirus outbreak mitigation strategy.

This measure is being taken as a significant effort to control the current outbreak at the North West regional Hospital. In addition to the quarantine actions, any of the identified staff will be offered testing for coronavirus, whether or not they have symptoms.

These measures go above and beyond the requirements of the National Guidelines. This indicates the seriousness of the situation and the significance of our response, and also recognises the considerable anxiety of the Workforce in the North West.

Staff are being contacted directly this afternoon and advised they will need to self-quarantine for 14 days if they have recently worked on either of these two wards. If they do not have the ability to adequately self-quarantine, they will be provided with alternative accommodation for the quarantine period.

In order to supplement the loss of staff at the NWRH due to the outbreak, the emergency department and the close observation unit at the Mersey Community Hospital will close from tomorrow. Staff from these areas will be redeployed to the NWRH.

To supplement these measures, there will be no new patients admitted to either the medical or surgical wards at the NWRH. Anyone requiring admission from the NWRH emergency department will be transferred to the Launceston General Hospital.

Ambulance calls east of Penguin requiring an ambulance will be taken directly to the Launceston General Hospital should they require transport.

The Health Department has also today taken operational control of the North West Private Hospital for the purpose of outbreak management. This is to allow the expansion of the Outbreak Management Team to deal with the situation at both the NWRH and the NWPH, as a single site.

We understand there is considerable concern within the staff cohorts at the North West hospitals and within the broader community. The measures we have put in place today are designed to mitigate the outbreak, reassure staff, and provide the best possible protection for staff, patients and the community.

We thank all our staff for their cooperation and continued commitment to providing our community with the very best health care possible.

Without doubt, the measures we are implementing are unprecedented, and we are doing so with the very best of advice and determination to mitigate the current situation as efficiently as possible.

We ask for the community’s understanding and patience as we do what we can to ensure our dedicated staff have every support they need to continue providing health services at the NWRH.