..the number of COVID-19 cases is increasing daily and according to the Australian Government Department of Health there are 1,098 confirmed as of 22 March 2020 and unfortunately 7 deaths 1.
The WHO has announced this as a pandemic and each country is putting in place their own strategic measures to reduce the spread. Good hygiene practice, restricted travel, self-quarantine, social distancing and cancelled public events are major ways to curb transmission.
These numbers will continue to increase, and healthcare facilities should be prepared to deal with the influx of people needing to be tested and those diagnosed. Not everyone who contracts the virus shows serious symptoms and sometimes no symptoms at all. However, it can be fatal and those at higher risk are people with compromised immune systems, the elderly and people with chronic medical conditions. Not only do we need to take care of those who already have the virus but also protect healthcare personnel and those vulnerable groups who will suffer the most if they contract it.
Demand on the system
Healthcare facilities need the right equipment and environments to cope with surge capacity and to curb the virus from spreading further. Below are just some of the essential equipment that will be in demand and facilities need to act quickly to ensure they are not left underprepared.
Isolation Wards – These are highly specialised, air-tight rooms with dedicated ventilation and filter equipment. Recent technologies have changed the scope of these spaces and they no longer need to be constructed/renovated as major works. Any room can be converted into a negative pressure change room & bedroom in under 3 hours and the room returned to its former use as demand requires.
Ventilators – In severe cases COVID-19 can cause pneumonia with acute respiratory distress2 and ventilators are required to help the patient breathe and provide oxygen to the body. Many ventilators in the hospital system are already in-use by other patients and numbers will fall short as more cases present. It is imperative that hospitals act now to ensure that they are equipped with enough of these life saving devices.
Telemedicine – Remote diagnosing and monitoring are big factors in protecting our healthcare workers. Telemedicine workstations and mobile carts can be used to connect professionals and patients without the need to be face-to-face. Existing Workstations on Wheels can easily be converted to Telemedicine carts which is cost and time effective.
Lead times to receive life saving devices are extending every day as global demand is putting pressure on manufacturers, with production plants working 24/7 to keep up with orders. Quick action is required to ensure Australian healthcare facilities are ready.
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