Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Angus Moxon and St Andrew’s Ipswich Private Hospital operating theatre nurse unit manager Clare Price. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Orthopaedic surgeon Dr Angus Moxon and St Andrew’s Ipswich Private Hospital operating theatre nurse unit manager Clare Price. Picture: Cordell Richardson

Private hospital assists public sector with surgery backlog

IPSWICH'S only private hospital is assisting the public sector work through a backlog of elective surgeries, which were put on hold due to COVID-19.

With all elective surgeries now allowed to proceed as of this week, a quarter of the procedures performed by St Andrew's Ipswich Private Hospital are being done to assist West Moreton Health with its waitlist.

CEO Claire Thurwood said the coronavirus had "transformed" the way the 110-year-old hospital operated.

"The elective surgery restrictions, which were brought in by the Federal Government, we totally supported," she said.

"We were only able to operate at 50 per cent capacity and it was for urgent category one and two patients only. So only those requiring acute medical attention.

"That saw a huge reduction in the amount of patients that were coming through St Andrew's, both surgically, medically and through the emergency department.

"We're assisting West Moreton and Ipswich Hospital with their backlog."

Ms Thurwood said the pandemic had solidified relations with Ipswich Hospital.

St Andrew's has spent $1 million to fit out a new operating theatre to open in mid-June to deal with demand.

"Our surgeons have been very proactive with making sure they have time available to help the public patients," she said.

"A lot of our doctors work at Ipswich Hospital and are very community minded.

"They've really stepped up and we've had quite a lot of public patients coming through our hospital at the moment and we expect that to continue.

"Not only under the state viability agreement but well into the future.

"When we were all preparing for COVID, the Ipswich Hospital staff welcomed my staff to go and do their training and view their COVID-19 simulations."

Ms Thurwood said COVID-19 has meant big changes for staff, patients and visitors.

Everyone who enters the hospital is temperature checked and staff upskilled to try and stay ahead of trends seen overseas.

Rehabilitation sessions have been restructured, more telehealth consults are being conducted, especially to keep in touch with maternity patients, and virtual antenatal classes will be held.

"Going back to April, we were very much preparing for what we all thought would be a larger medical event than it turned into," she said.

"Essentially we had to transform the way that the hospital operated on a day-to-day basis.

"Our staff have had to be mindful of social distancing which can be quite difficult in a hospital.

"Staff have trained in ventilator competency. There was the thought the surge was going to hit Australia like it had overseas. We had to buy more equipment to ensure we were able to support the community."

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor.



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