COVID-19: Your guide to hospitals’ new rules

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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced new ways of thinking and behaving across Australian society – including healthcare.

Patients, medical professionals, support staff and allied health workers are all learning to deal with new risks and restrictions caused by COVID-19.

So what changes should you expect to see in Australian hospitals?

The country’s largest private provider, Ramsay Health Care, has created an explainer video for people visiting its 70-plus hospitals, pharmacies, day surgeries and clinics nationwide. 

“The first thing you’ll notice when you arrive are some changes to our entry points,” said Beth McEwan, a registered nurse at Gold Coast's Pindara Private Hospital.

“We’ll ask you a series of screening questions, and in some cases take your temperature, to identify anybody who’s at potential risk of having COVID-19.” 

She said people should arrive earlier than planned in case there is a short queue at the entrance. 

“This is a really important strategy to help keep you safe, so we thank you for your cooperation and understanding,” Ms McEwan added.

Once inside the building, visitors should look for signs displaying important information to help curb the spread of any infection. 

“During your time here, we ask you to practise good hand hygiene by using the hand gel provided, and cough-and-sneeze etiquette by using your elbow, as well as social distancing – also referred to as physical distancing,” said Alex Abandowitz, infection control co-ordinator at Greenslopes Private Hospital in Brisbane.

People will also be asked to leave a space of 1.5 metres between one another. 

“You’ll see signs to indicate where you should stand if you’re in a queue, and you may notice some chairs are marked to indicate which ones you can sit on,” Ms Abandowitz added.

To avoid large groups of people gathering, patient admission times are being staggered and the number of visitors is temporarily reduced. 

“Wherever possible, we encourage you to consider keeping in touch with your loved ones via digital devices such as your phone, rather than arranging a face-to-face visit,” said Dr Brad Robinson, obstetrician and gynaecologist at Greenslopes Private Hospital.

Healthcare staff are equipped with protective equipment to prevent virus transmission, while building surfaces are regularly cleaned.

“We’re constantly monitoring our supplies of personal protective equipment such as face masks and gloves, as part of our strict infection control and prevention protocols,” said Alison Edwards, environmental services team leader at Pindara Private Hospital.

“We’ve also increased our cleaning of high-touch areas, such as door handles, lift buttons and benchtops.”

All these precautions aim to make sure everyone is as safe as possible.

“We’re completely committed to providing you with high-quality, effective services and treatment in a safe and comfortable environment,” said Allan Chan, physiotherapist at Gold Coast’s John Flynn Private Hospital. 

Read more: Threat to health from missed appointments during COVID-19 pandemic

Read more: Temperature screening ‘enhances patient safety’

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