Pulling double shifts, sleeping at the hospital, and hitching rides to get to work – the “amazing team” at Shepparton Private Hospital has rallied to keep the facility open for patients during the floods in Victoria.
Severe weather in the Goulburn Valley has led to both evacuations and people being stranded in their homes without power, including some of the hospital’s staff members.
“We have an amazing team of health workers at Shepparton Private Hospital who are providing incredible support and working double shifts to keep our hospital open during the flood,” CEO Rhys Jones said.
“This is allowing us to continue to care for patients requiring vital treatment.”
Mr Jones paid tribute to Senior Nurse Unit Manager Emma Freer, who battled her way to the hospital after sending her husband and three kids in a car north to safety.
“When floodwaters cut off her property, she managed to hitch a ride out with a local in a 4WD who then dropped her at the hospital,” he said.
Mr Jones, Mrs Freer and the hospital’s new Director of Clinical Services, Martlie Horn, have based themselves at the Fitzgerald Street site.
“Martlie has been working and sleeping at the hospital after receiving an order to evacuate her property,” Mr Jones said.
“On a personal note, I am grateful to my neighbours who are looking after my dog after my home lost power and was cut off from Sunday.
“Working and sleeping at the hospital has allowed Martlie, Emma and I to respond quickly to the situation in order to keep our patients and staff safe.”
Mr Jones and his colleagues have also been out in the community, helping with shovelling work at the Shepparton Showgrounds.
He said the hospital would provide assistance to employees impacted by the floods, while its operator Ramsay Health Care also offers a free support program including professional and confidential counselling and coaching.
“I’m so grateful to our wonderful team members who have stepped up to help their colleagues, our patients and our community,” he said.
“We remain on high alert with more rain predicted, but we hope to get back to doing what we do best as soon as possible – that is, providing quality healthcare to the people of Goulburn Valley.”
Just before the October floods, Shepparton Private Hospital had announced the arrival of a new surgical robotic system – a first for the region.
The technology means patients can undergo knee replacement surgery and recover closer to home, rather than travel to metropolitan centres.
“Regional living should not come at a disadvantage for the community in relation to accessing emerging, cutting-edge medical advancements,” orthopaedic surgeon Dr Senthil Rengasamy said.
“Typically, patients having knee replacement would stay for an average three to five days, and being able to spend this time at their local private hospital, close to home, allows for better support through their social network.
“It also makes it much easier for patients when the frequent trips to see the surgeon in the postoperative period can be done locally.”
Dr Rengasamy said the robot system also helped surgeons perform procedures with increased accuracy, reproducibility, and control.
“The most important potential benefit that we can see with this technology over the previously available methods is that we are able to more accurately set the bone resection, we can assess the soft tissue balance intraoperatively, predict the joint gaps and personalize the measured values to individual knee pathologies,” he said.