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Keep informed, and be vigilant

Friday, 20th March, 2020

Far West Local Health District CEO Umit Agis. PICTURE: Callum Marshall Far West Local Health District CEO Umit Agis. PICTURE: Callum Marshall

By Callum Marshall

A number of important issues in relation to COVID-19 and the Far West Local Health District’s preparedness for it has been outlined by the district’s CEO Umit Agis.

Speaking to media Wednesday afternoon, Mr Agis discussed, amongst other issues, the number of ICU (Intensive Care Unit) beds at the hospital, adequate staffing and about ensuring isolated communities such as Menindee and Wilcannia were kept in the loop as well.

With Mr Agis confirming no positive tests for the virus across the district as of Wednesday afternoon, he said the service currently had enough supplies to get by but would adjust that if or when it was needed.

“We believe that at this point, on the basic information that we have, we currently have enough supplies,” Mr Agis said Wednesday afternoon.

“But of course, when the first positive case comes back we know from experience that actually the intensity increases in the community. And the need for increased swabbing or testing will increase as well.

“We are certainly keeping in touch with our Ministry and our suppliers. 

“And if that was to come to pass then we’d be obviously bringing more supplies in.”

He said the local hospital currently had five ICU beds to help deal with the situation.

“Based on our modelling, we can scale up to 10,” he added.

“And we have adequate ventilators. 

“We’ve also asked for more ventilators for our district sites so that we have the capacity, in case we can’t move people out, to treat people on site.”

Asked if all the appropriate information had been passed onto remote Indigenous communities in places like Wilcannia, Mr Agis said everywhere across the district had been factored into the service’s plans.

“When we did our plans certainly we have done them for the whole of the region, not just Broken Hill,” he said.

“We certainly have plans in all our districts, which includes our capacity to test people in an isolated area so we don’t create a situation for cross-infection. 

“So that exists in every facility.

“We’ve also ordered extra ventilators to locate strategically in each of our remote areas.  

“In terms of letting the community know, we are asking our local leadership to actually engage at a local level as well as meeting like this (with the media.)

“We want to obviously have the media really engaged with us so we can take this message out to the public.

“I’m also sending our regular bulletins to our staff which includes messaging that our staff should be communicating to their communities as well.”

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