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Local News - Victoria

Hospital surge plans dumped as COVID-19 spreads


The rise in cases comes as The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald learnt that major orders for ventilators, defibrillators and intensive care monitors – often based on the worst-case scenario – have been cancelled or renegotiated, and may now need to be revised following the spike in cases.

More than 3000 intensive care monitors were ordered in April, before the consignment was significantly reduced after protracted negotiations with the manufacturer, according to a government source who was not authorised to comment publicly.

Australian Medical Association Victorian president Julian Rait said he was extremely concerned by the rise in infections in hospitals and aged care homes.

Australian Medical Association Victorian president Julian Rait said he was extremely concerned by the rise in infections in hospitals and aged care homes.Credit:Justin McManus

Health Purchasing Victoria had wanted fewer than 1000 of the monitors, before eventually agreeing to take about 2000.

Plans to buy hundreds of defibrillators from overseas never proceeded after Victoria managed to flatten the curve in April.

A proposal for a 750-bed intensive care facility at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre was also quietly shelved.

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Melbourne City Council had entered a joint venture with Lendlease to transform the building known as Jeff’s Shed, with plans to expand the facility to 2000 beds if the crisis deepened. It is unknown if a commercial agreement was made with Lendlease, or whether it received compensation when the project was cancelled.

A Lendlease spokeswoman said it had “no current agreements or works in place at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre”.

Brunswick Private Hospital in Melbourne’s inner north remains closed for new admissions after four patients and a healthcare worker tested positive to the virus on Wednesday.

Contact tracing is also under way after outbreaks in four Melbourne aged care homes in 24 hours.

A Mercy Health aged care worker who provides services to elderly residents in their homes was also among the new cases of coronavirus reported in Victoria and was isolating at home.

Mercy Health said the worker had no symptoms prior to testing. It was working with government contact-tracers to identify who else might be at risk.

A staff member at the Doutta Galla Lynch’s Bridge nursing home in Kensington may have unknowingly exposed elderly residents to the virus after attending work on July 2 and 3 while infectious.

A resident has tested positive at the Glendale Aged Care facility in Werribee in the city’s west, while a staff member who worked at the Uniting AgeWell facility in Preston has also tested positive.

Uniting AgeWell said in a statement about coronavirus on its website that it had implemented a “robust pandemic plan and infection control protocols”, was following the advice of state and federal governments and had set up a COVID-19 taskforce of senior executives and managers.

An employee at Baptcare Karana age care facility in Kew has been infected, but the Health Department said they did not work while infectious.

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A doctor at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital tested positive, sending 15 staff into quarantine after potential exposure, while a rehabilitation patient at the Epworth Hospital in Hawthorn was also infected with the virus.

Australian Medical Association Victorian president Julian Rait said he was extremely concerned by the spike in infections in hospitals and aged care homes.

A cluster at the Northern Hospital’s emergency department in Epping, which emerged last week, has infected nine staff so far.

Associate Professor Rait said he was particularly troubled by the cluster at Brunswick Private Hospital, which provides rehab services for a large cohort of vulnerable and immuno-compromised patients.

In a statement, Brunswick Private Hospital said staff had acted “appropriately and with immediacy”.

“Hospital management is working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Public Health Unit for contact-tracing and overall COVID-19 management,” the statement said.

“As a precautionary measure … Brunswick Private Hospital patient admissions and visitor access has ceased until further notice.”

As fresh figures reveal Victoria is braced to hit a record 1000 active cases this week, Professor Rait said it was critical hospitals considered bringing in the mandatory use of surgical masks in clinical areas at all times.

Under new advice, staff in clinical areas are now required to wear a mask at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Northern Hospital, the Austin and The Alfred to protect healthcare workers and patients.

“This is something every metropolitan hospital in Melbourne should be thinking about implementing,” Professor Rait said. “Not just healthcare workers, but all guests and visitors should also be required to wear masks.”

He said the “gold standard model” was Western Health, which had introduced even more stringent precautions for three of its main hospitals, including Footscray, requiring all staff to wear masks and a face shield, even if they don’t work with patients.

Two nurses who attended a group training session at the Royal Melbourne Hospital have also been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, at least one nurse at The Alfred hospital has tested positive this week, while four Victorian paramedics have been infected and are in isolation.

A spokesman for the Epworth Hospital said its pandemic planning had prepared for the scenario of a patient becoming infected and “immediately triggered its internal response team to ensure our patients were cared for and that contact tracing and identification of potential exposures in the rehabilitation centre took place”.

Glendale Aged Care facility and the Department of Health and Human Services have been contacted for comment.

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Local News - Victoria

St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne doctor tests positive to COVID-19


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An outbreak at the Northern Hospital in Epping was first revealed last Friday. By Tuesday, nine staff linked to the emergency department had tested positive.

Dr John Bonning, president of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine, said he was “deeply concerned” and seeking further information on the recent rise in infections among healthcare workers.

“It is our strong view that frontline staff must be involved in decision-making processes as part of ongoing hospital and healthcare system responses to this fast-moving and dynamic situation,” he said.

“Any case of healthcare workers contracting COVID-19 is deeply concerning and our thoughts are with affected colleagues in Victoria, who are doing an incredible job under very difficult circumstances.”

Medical staff at the Royal Melbourne Hospital are also concerned about their risk of contracting the virus after two nurses who attended a group training session for the hospital’s new digital record system tested positive.

The hospital’s chief executive Christine Kilpatrick wrote to staff on Monday to advise them the hospital was working with the Health Department “to implement all appropriate measures, including contact tracing and cleaning” after the link to the training sessions was made.

At least one nurse at The Alfred hospital also tested positive to the virus this week.

Two Victorian paramedics have also contracted the virus and are currently in isolation, with contact tracing under way.

Ambulance Victoria chief executive Tony Walker said paramedics wear personal protective equipment, like face masks and gloves, to every case to protect patients and themselves.

“We take every precaution to minimise the rate of infection among our frontline workforce and we remind the community of their vital role in stopping the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

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Front-line staff and some visitors to Melbourne’s largest hospitals will now have to wear surgical masks at all times, as extra precautions are put in place to protect doctors, nurses and patients from coronavirus.

Staff in all clinical areas at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in Parkville, the Northern Hospital in Epping, the Austin Hospital in Heidelberg and The Alfred in Melbourne have now been advised to wear masks.

Western Health has introduced even more stringent precautions for three of its main hospitals, including Footscray Hospital, requiring all staff to wear masks and a face shield, even if they don’t work with patients.

Many of Victoria’s hospitals had gone weeks or months without treating any patients with COVID-19, after discharging their final patients from the first surge of the disease in the state.

Less than a month ago, on June 12, the number of COVID-19 patients in Victorian hospitals dipped to five, when just one person was in intensive care.

However, 41 patients with the virus were in hospital on Wednesday morning, including seven in intensive care.

with Aisha Dow

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Local News - Victoria

Patient deaths after wait in ambulances lead to hospital probe


“I have been told they were waiting for an hour or two,” Mr Hill said.

Austin Hospital staff tend to a patient.

Austin Hospital staff tend to a patient.Credit:Justin McManus

Safer Care Victoria chief executive Euan Wallace confirmed the watchdog was investigating the matter.

“We are reviewing that patient’s care to really ask questions about whether it was an unavoidable event or not,” Professor Wallace said.

He said he was not able to go into detail about the incident for privacy reasons and because it was the subject of an ongoing investigation.

Mr Hill said an elderly man recently died at the Werribee Mercy Hospital after waiting outside for 90 minutes, having a cardiac arrest shortly before he was due to be admitted.

Professor Wallace confirmed Mercy Health and Ambulance Victoria were jointly investigating that patient’s death, with the findings to be handed to Safe Care Victoria.

The union account of the second incident is strongly disputed by the hospital, and a spokesman said that reports a patient had died after not being assessed in the emergency department as a result of coronavirus arrangements were incorrect.

“A delay in transferring an elderly patient from an ambulance bay to the emergency department at Werribee Mercy Hospital has been acknowledged, but it was not the cause of the patient’s subsequent death,” a spokesman said.

While Mr Hill is not claiming the deaths were preventable, he said they were distressing to paramedics involved. Neither patient who died was suspected of having coronavirus.

“Sitting outside the hospital with a patient that needs care and waiting as they deteriorate and go into cardiac arrest is incredibly traumatic,” he said.

Mr Hill said long delays to admissions to emergency departments prevented ambulance crews from moving on to see the next patient.

The long waits for admission recently led to a change of protocol, with paramedics being told to wait no longer than 20 minutes before leaving patients in the care of hospital staff so they can get to other call-outs.

As Victoria records an alarming surge in coronavirus patients and emergency department numbers soar, Professor Wallace said hospitals were having to quickly readjust coronavirus plans to ensure separation between those suspected of being infected and others seeking treatment.

“As our knowledge of the virus has changed so has our guidance for hospitals,” he said. “Our [emergency departments] are now having to look at how they maintain this cohort and separation of patients when [those departments] are getting busier again and it is an ongoing challenge for them,” Professor Wallace said.

To prevent outbreaks, emergency departments have been divided so those with COVID-19 symptoms are treated in a separate area from other patients.

Ambulance Victoria confirmed that paramedics have been dealing with instances of longer than usual transfer times as a result of “robust measures in place to contain COVID-19”.

“Ambulance Victoria has notified one case to Safer Care Victoria,” the organisation’s executive director of clinical operations, Mick Stephenson, said. “We extend our deepest sympathies to this patient’s families and loved ones.”

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Mr Stephenson said changes to the triage process during the COVID-19 pandemic had been introduced in consultation with the Health Department “to ensure all patients are moved into emergency departments quickly and appropriately”.

In April, during the pandemic’s first peak in Victoria, the number of patients in emergency departments plummeted, with people avoiding hospitals amid fears of overburdening the health service or being infected with coronavirus.

In the months since, as patient numbers have returned to normal, doctors have warned that emergency department overcrowding is again placing lives at risk.

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine’s Dr Mya Cubitt said new infection control measures to protect staff and patients were also contributing to the crowding. The college has called for state and federal governments to extend their crisis response to the coronavirus with new measures to reduce demand on emergency services.

“It is completely unacceptable to have patients crowded together in emergency departments,” Dr Cubitt said.

“It is equally unacceptable to have these patients being treated in ambulances for extended periods as they wait for space to free up inside the hospital.”

A spokesman for the Austin Hospital said waiting times in the emergency department varied depending on demand, with patients prioritised based on the severity of their condition.

“Any critical incident is investigated to ensure the appropriate care has been provided and this can include working with the coroner or Safer Care Victoria to identify improvements that can be made to systems and processes,” he said.

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Local News - Victoria

CFMMEU official in hospital after alleged assault at Hawthorn East site


A spokeswoman for the CFMMEU said two officials had arrived on site with “all their paperwork in order” when they were “attacked and jumped” by up to seven men.

She said one of the men was knocked unconscious after being struck in the back of the head with some kind of object. He was taken to hospital and has since woken up but was “not in great shape”, she said.

The investigation is now in the hands of police. They are on site investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Toorak Road is closed in both directions between Auburn Road and Tooronga Road due to the incident.



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Australian News

Woman killed outside Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital at Herston


A 50-year-old female cyclist has died after being hit by a truck outside the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital at Herston about 7.30 this morning.

The cyclist was travelling in the inbound name when the crash occurred. Bowen Bridge Rd at O’Connell Terrace remains closed while the incident is under investigation.

A spokeswoman from Queensland Police Services said the crash occurred “right outside the (Royal Brisbane and Women’s) Hospital”.

The woman was attempting to cross the road when the crash occurred.

Emergency crews remain on the scene of the crash and major delays are expected through Kedron.

Queensland Police urge motorists to avoid the area.

More to come



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Emergency nurse tests positive at Royal Melbourne hospital


As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in Melbourne, it has just come to light that an emergency nurse has tested positive for the virus.

Last night, Royal Melbourne Hospital put out a statement confirming that an emergency department nurse had tested positive.

Cleaning and contact tracing is now underway.

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“Any staff, patients or visitors who may have been affected have been informed and our Infection Prevention and Surveillance Service is providing support,” it said.

The hospital did not say how many patients and staff may have come into contact with the female nurse.

It’s bad news for the already struggling state, with Victoria recording 41 new cases of coronavirus yesterday.

That’s its second highest single-day spike since the coronavirus pandemic began.



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Australian News

SA’s Royal Adelaide Hospital looks for COVID-19 volunteers


Volunteers are being recruited for a possible COVID-19 vaccine trial in Adelaide.

Researchers at the Royal Adelaide Hospital are looking for about 100 healthy adults for the trial which may be conducted later this year.

No particular vaccine candidate has been chosen so far, but SA Health says the recruitment campaign is about having a database of volunteers ready to go if a trial is authorised.

It’s possible they could be called on to trial more than one possible vaccine.

“A number of vaccines are showing promising results in animal models so we are excited at the prospect of beginning human trials in Adelaide,” clinical immunologist Pravin Hissaria said.

“By commencing the initial screening process now, we will be able to get started on the trial without any delay as soon as it has been finalised.”

The call came as South Australia reported no new virus cases again on Monday, leaving the state’s total on 440.

It also came as Premier Steven Marshall expressed concern at a surge in coronavirus cases in Victoria, which could impact on SA’s decision to open all its borders on July 20.

Mr Marshall said local officials were “very hopeful” that Victoria would get on top of the current spike in infections and it was in the national interest for it to reduce the number of new cases.

“The entire country is on Victoria’s side,” he said.

But he said the events in Melbourne were worrying and when it came to SA’s border restrictions, the decision would be based on what was best for public health.

“We are looking at the issue of borders very carefully and very closely at the moment,” the premier said.

“We won’t be opening our borders if it’s not safe to do so.” On Tuesday, SA will send a team of contact tracing experts to Victoria to help quell the resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

Health Minister Stephen Wade said the three SA staff would spend three weeks there supporting local health officials.

“Victoria has had a significant surge and there have been more than 116 cases identified in the last seven days and 75 per cent of those have been the result of community transmission,” Mr Wade said.

“It’s very clear that as they continue to investigate those cases, they will need to get in early and to get in early you need to have the public health specialists who can interview the particular cases and trace their close contacts.”



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Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust plans to unlock new ways of improving patient care


Swiss Post Solutions (SPS), a leading outsourcing provider for business process solutions and innovative services in document management, and IMMJ Systems were selected by Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to deliver a multi-speciality service to improve patient care through instant access to clinical information; improved integration; and collaboration between clinicians.

Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust plans to unlock new ways of improving patient care

Kingston Hospital has always been at the forefront of digitization and is one of only a handful of NHS Trusts in the UK at EMRAM score 6. The Trust supports around 350,000 patients and employs c. 3,200 staff. In 2017, it was the fourth Trust in the country to achieve stage 6 of the HIMSS Electronic Medical Record Analytics Adoption Model by becoming a paper lite hospital. The deployment of the MediViewer™ Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) is seen as a key enabler for the Trust to move to stage 7.

SPS UKI chose IMMJ Systems  to integrate their MediViewer™ EDMS with the Trusts Cerner Electronic Patient Record (EPR) system, where IMMJ Systems has already achieved a level of integration no other EDM vendor has been able to achieve. This allows a full comprehensive integrated care experience. MediViewer™ is a next generation digital platform providing searchable, categorized, digitized clinical content and full electronic patient records at the point of care.

By choosing to unlock more efficient ways of delivering care through a fully integrated system, the Trust will achieve increased safety amongst its patients due to greater accuracy of data; 24/7 access to records anywhere geographically; and a full consistent and up-to-date version of patient information. Improved access to relevant information will increase staff morale allowing them to focus on core duties with decreased administrative workload and; provide better care.

We are proud to be a leading Trust demonstrating a commitment to improve patient safety and the quality of clinical care whilst enabling our staff to carry out core duties more efficiently through the use of technology.‘’


Carl Chow, Chief Clinical Information Officer of Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

SPS UKI in partnership with IMMJ Systems  were chosen because of their experience and proven ability to collaboratively deliver challenging large-scale digital transformation projects and knowledge of the health sector.

Kingston Hospital has demonstrated innovation by leveraging technology to improve their patient experience and staff working culture and because of this SPS are proud to be a part of their digital transformation journey. We are committed to working together efficiently to deliver the change quickly.“


Gary Harrold, CEO of SPS UKI

Phil Burke, Chief Projects Officer at IMMJ Systems said, ‘’IMMJ Systems are proud to be partnering with Kingston Hospital and SPS to deliver this project for such a forwarding thinking Trust and assist them in their journey towards paperless healthcare. We are also delighted that IMMJ Systems’ MediViewer™ EDMS has again been chosen as the preferred EDMS platform via another competitive procurement, further demonstrating the change in the market, by providing a uniquely architected solution for another NHS Trust. This project will enable so many benefits for the Trust in a number of areas, we are genuinely excited at the prospect and future successes we will jointly deliver”.





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Australian News

William Callaghan finally home from hospital after Mt Disappointment ordeal


William Callaghan will finally sleep in his own bed tonight after surivivng two nights lost in near-freezing Victorian bushland.

The boy, 14, was discharged from Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital this afternoon, after he spent the night being treated for cuts and abrasions and a suspected broken foot. Doctors also needed to remove an insect from his ear.

Will’s mum Penny Callaghan told reporters outside the hospital this morning he’d had good sleep in hospital after enjoying a dinner of chicken nuggets and chips.

“This is a massive ordeal for him, but to him it was probably just an adventure as well,” she said.

“He’s just happy, I think, that I’m there. He slept pretty well last night. A lot better than I did.”

Will managed to survive two difficult nights lost at Mt Disappointment as temperatures plunged to near 0C after he became separated from his family during a walk on Monday.

Hundreds of search crews and volunteers staged a massive two-day search in thick bushland for the boy, who was eventually found on Wednesday by a bushwalker.

Earlier, Professor Robyn Young from Flinders University, who works with children on the autism spectrum, told news.com.au why she believed Will had managed to survive the ordeal despite life-threatening conditions.

“His autism meant he was at risk (of not being found) because he wasn’t responding by name and he was upset by helicopters flying overhead but at the same time there were a number of things that were protecting him,” Prof Young said.

“Much of them relate to hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity – basically they have a high pain threshold.

“We’re not sure if they don’t feel it or don’t respond to it but I’ve seen kids that have walked around with broken bones.”



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William Callaghan, teen missing on Mount Disappointment, released from hospital; Victoria news


The mother of an autistic teen who spent two nights lost in dense Victorian bushland says his rescuer should have a mountain named after him.

William Callaghan spent the night in hospital after being lost on Mount Disappointment for two nights.

Despite temperatures dropping to near zero degrees, the 14-year-old avoided hypothermia and managed to walk away with a suspected broken foot, and some cuts and bruising.

William Callaghan is hugged by his mum at the base camp at Mount Disappointment. He was found alive after two cold nights in Victoria's bush
William Callaghan is hugged by his mum at the base camp at Mount Disappointment. He was found alive after two cold nights in Victoria’s bush (AAP / James Ross)
William Callaghan survived two nights of bitterly cold temperatures, wearing just blue tracksuit pants and a hoodie. Here he is seen in a blue jacket, being carried as search party members look on
William Callaghan survived two nights of bitterly cold temperatures, wearing just blue tracksuit pants and a hoodie. Here he is seen in a blue jacket, being carried as search party members look on (Victoria Police)

He may also have an insect inside his ear, hospital staff said.

Will was found yesterday morning by local volunteer Ben Gibbs, who ventured out of the designated search site and stumbled across him.

Will’s mother Penny Callaghan addressed the media this morning, saying Mount Disappointment should be named after Mr Gibbs for his heroic efforts.

“I would love to give him a hug, I’m incredibly thankful,” Ms Callaghan said of Will’s rescuer.

“It was incredible to hear his family connection to the mountain. I would prefer the mountain to be named after him.”

The 14-year-old, who is non-verbal, disappeared about 2.20pm on Monday. (Nine)

As the family walked towards the summit, Will raced ahead and became separated from them.

Emergency crews were called in immediately to help find Will, who is non-verbal due to his condition.

It was a race against time as temperatures dropped to near zero degrees.

Yesterday, shortly after a public plea from Ms Callaghan, Mr Gibbs found the smiling teen and offered him food until emergency crews arrived.

Police said Will was found at 11.55pm about 1.5kms from the Mount Disappointment base camp and 10 minutes from the main bush track.

“I can’t imagine what he has been feeling and going through,” Ms Callaghan said after being reunited with her son.

Penny Callagan (left), mother of William Callagan and partner Nathan Ezard. (AAP)
William reunited with family after a three-day search for the missing teen. (Nine)

She said he was “as well as can be expected” and indicated to her via hand signals that he was “confused” and “scared” from the ordeal.

After being assessed at the scene for minor cuts and abrasions, William was taken to the Royal Children’s Hospital.

Royal Children’s Hospital emergency registrar Dani Bersin said William was “relatively unscathed” after spending two nights by himself in the thick scrub where he had just tracksuit pants and a hoodie in the extreme low temperatures.

Mr Bersin said he suffered from a few minor abrasions to his feet and face but did not have hypothermia.

“He’s walking around … he’s interacting well. His temperature is normal,” he said.

“It’s quite incredible to survive the elements for two nights in the cold, we heard that it was almost zero degrees up on the mountain.”

More than 200 volunteers and about 150 police and emergency services took part in the search for William.

Volunteer Ben Gibbs has found the missing teenager. (Nine)

Mr Gibbs, who lives in Research, told reporters he found the teen after walking slightly further past a search area which had earlier been tagged by rescue crews.

“I was just wandering through the bush, it was quite thick, so just breaking my way through it,” he said.

“He was about 15 metres from me just standing there. He was really angelic, just standing and looking.”

Mr Gibbs said he talked to William about Thomas the Tank Engine, a favourite of the teen’s, and then gave him some chocolate.

He also put some socks on the teen, who was not wearing shoes.

According to his mother, William’s first food request was McDonald’s after going hungry for days.

She said William wanted “hot and salty food”.

When asked about her plans once Will was well, she smiled and said she wanted to take him on a holiday.



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