More than 220 staff members at Ipswich Hospital have gone into quarantine.
More than 220 staff members at Ipswich Hospital have gone into quarantine.

How Ipswich Hospital cluster will impact elective surgeries

ELECTIVE surgeries at Ipswich Hospital have been postponed and staff shifted to plug gaps as a fifth healthcare worker tested positive.

More than 220 staff went into quarantine over the weekend.

Queensland recorded two new cases on Monday, including a female healthcare worker in her 30s who works at the hospital.

She was already in quarantine and was a close contact of a previously confirmed case from the facility.

Queensland Health director general Dr John Wakefield said staff who work in elective surgery will be shifted to cover the emergency department and acute admissions.

“There are five staff now as part of that cluster in the Ipswich Hospital,” he said.

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“They all either have arisen from working in that COVID area or from being a defined close contact of the nurses that were initially identified.

“The link is direct.”

Dr Wakefield said ED staff who had gone into quarantine after a positive case visited the department last month had now returned to work.

“(They) have all tested clear and they’re back at work which helped a lot,” he said.

“West Moreton (Health) have done an excellent job with the support of Children’s Health Queensland and our large health services.

Queensland Health director general Dr John Wakefield.
Queensland Health director general Dr John Wakefield.

“It was necessary because of that large number for West Moreton to initiate the next stage of their internal plans.

“The common sense approach to that is to shift staff from the surgical areas, the elective surgical areas, who know Ipswich Hospital … to support what we call the acute area of the hospital.

“That is the emergency department and the acute admissions … so all of those services are proceeding normally.”

Dr Wakefield said elective surgeries booked in over the next few days had to be cancelled as a result.

“Our focus is on the patients who are affected by that,” he said.

“We’ve initiated our private hospital relationship which we have across the state including in West Moreton to be able to support those patients whose surgery has been cancelled.

“These are not urgent cases, these are low priority electives but each of them is very important if you’re the patient.

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“For every patient whose procedure is delayed … we work with them to decide, well, what do they want to do. What can we offer by way of private surgery?”

West Moreton will be backed by nearby health services Metro South and Metro North to provide support should more staff at Ipswich Hospital need to go into quarantine.

“We can do that swiftly and in an organised way so that we maintain services for West Moreton,” Dr Wakefield said.

“It would not be right for the patients of West Moreton to suffer less access to services whilst our health services are going full pelt on elective surgery.”

St Andrew’s Ipswich Private Hospital CEO Claire Thurwood said the two hospitals have a longstanding relationship.

“The staff and doctors of St Andrew’s Ipswich Private have answered the call for assistance without hesitation,” she said.

“We are providing both medical and surgical services to support West Moreton through these unprecedented times.

“We believe that in times like these we must all band together, both public and private sectors, to ensure the people of West Moreton continue to have uninterrupted access to the medical services they require.”

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.



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