COVID-19 and Elective Surgery May 11, 2020
The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19, is part of a large group of viruses termed coronaviruses after their distinctive appearance. After arising from animal origins in late 2019, it has now spread worldwide and is continuing to cause significant morbidity and mortality along with unprecedented social and economic disruption.
Because of the real potential of a major demand on Australian healthcare services (as evidenced by overseas experiences) in the subsequent weeks and the lack of Personal Protective Equipment available at the time, the Federal Government suspended elective surgery as of midnight on the 1st April, 2020. Only essential category 1 and urgent category 2 cases were allowed to continue. Chatswood Private Hospital has successfully maintained this emergency service during April.
Due to the successful reduction in cases that NSW and Australia as a whole have achieved, combined with the increased supply of medical equipment and Personal Protective Equipment, restrictions on elective surgery have been eased from the 27th April. From this date, 25% of elective surgery cases (in addition to the emergency cases already being undertaken) were permitted to recommence. On 20th May 2020, NSW Health allowed Chatswood Private Hospital to increase to 50% with further increases up to 75% permitted throughout June 2020. This is being successfully implemented with the aim to prioritise people who need surgery the most, first. In introducing elective surgery again, the aim is also to ensure that a procedure can be undergone safely for both the patient and our staff.
To that end, competencies for Personal Protective Equipment and protocols for theatre management, including patient and staff risk assessment and social distancing, were introduced. Chatswood Private Hospital is also ready to respond to any rise in COVID-19 cases in the future if this unfortunately should occur.