Victoria’s hospitals tipped to hit capacity in weeks, doctor warns – too many ‘healthy’ aged care residents being transferred

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A Victorian emergency physician has highlighted an impending overburden on hospitals within weeks, if COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

Dr Sarah Whitelaw, who also sits on the board of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) in Victoria, told ABC’s 7.30 Report that the biggest problem was the number of healthcare workers contracting COVID-19.

As of yesterday, there were 911 active cases among healthcare workers in Victoria – a jump of 100 from 810 the previous day.

“We thought at the beginning of the pandemic that our problem was going to be intensive care beds and the number of ventilators that we had…we’ve been blindsided by the fact that our problem is the workforce,” she said.

She added that hospitals are already strained with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, but there is added pressure on the system with too many healthy aged care residents being transferred to hospitals.

“If the number of cases don’t go down … and we continue to move all of our aged care residents directly into the hospital system, within a couple of weeks we’ll run out of capacity,” Dr Whitelaw said.

The warning highlights the issue facing Victoria: if you can’t care for uninfected residents in the facility because of fear of infection from COVID positive cases, where else can they go?