Private hospitals doing their part during thunderstorm asthma


Melbourne’s private hospitals played their part in caring for patients during the catastrophic thunderstorm asthma event that hit the city last week, with Epworth Geelong recording its busiest day in its six months of operation.

Healthscope and Epworth hospitals, cared for a number of patients throughout the emergency and were available for public patients if needed.

Healthscope’s Knox Private Hospital and John Fawkner Private Hospital had 145 patients come through their doors, of those, 28 were considered to have thunderstorm asthma symptoms.

Epworth’s Geelong had its busiest day, while Epworth Richmond saw more than 120 patients in their emergency departments with around 45 patients having symptoms linked to the thunderstorm asthma

Managing Director of Epworth Richmond Emergency Department Associate Professor Ron Sultana said he has never seen anything like it in his 23 years as a doctor.

“While most patients responded well to the treatment provided, some cases were so serious they required admission to hospital for further treatment and management,” he said.

Respiratory Physician and Allergist Dr Michael Sutherland at the Epworth Geelong Hospital stated in an article in The Age event was by far the worst in world history.

He said it could change medical advice as doctors might prescribe preventative medication to those with sever hay fever who are not usually asthmatic during spring.

Dr Sutherland has also developed a five point plan to avoid thunderstorm asthma:

  1. Be aware of thunderstorm warning
  2. Stay inside during a storm
  3. Ben mindful of any asthma symptoms
  4. Monitor pollen counts
  5. If you have one, take your preventer regularly

Eight people have died due to the weather event and it has prompted the Victorian Government to undertake a state-wide review of the emergency response to the thunderstorm asthma.


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