Gippsland Southern Health Service has activated a Code Brown plan as part of a coordinated local response as Omicron spreads at unprecedented levels.
GSHS acting CEO Frank Megens said the Code Brown started at midday on Wednesday, January 19 and is expected to be in place for four to six weeks.
The announcement of the Code Brown at a state level applies to metropolitan and regional hospitals but allows for smaller organisations including small rural health services to activate local Code Brown plans.
GSHS is part of a sub-regional partnership including Bass Coast Health, South Gippsland Hospital and Koo Wee Rup Regional Health Service and the Code Brown is being invoked at each health service.
Mr Megens said the activation sent a strong signal to the community and staff that the health system was under considerable pressure.
“It allows for a central point of contact within the State-wide Health Service Response Centre to escalate issues and coordinate patient flows and support and coordinate service reconfiguration and impacts,” he said.
“The Code Brown enables the health service to change the way services are delivered to manage the increasing COVID-19 caseloads expected over coming weeks. Importantly, it ensures that the sickest patients will be prioritised for care, and it ensures essential, urgent and emergency care will continue.”
Mr Megens said a coordinated regional response allowed hospitals to work together to prioritise resources, make decisions about services, redistribute demand across the system and manage workforce shortages.
He said the planning ensures that more staff are available to deliver care in priority and essential services and urgent care.
At this stage GSHS has not curtailed any services or deferred non-urgent surgery.
“It is business as usual for us at this stage other than we are planning to take COVID patients if needed,” Mr Megens said.
GSHS is establishing a COVID ward for low-acuity COVID patients.
“We thank all staff for their ongoing efforts in ensuring care is delivered at GSHS,” Mr Megens added.