Bendigo Health is conducting two thirds of its outpatient appointments via telehealth to reduce the number of people attending the hospital precinct during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chief executive officer Peter Faulkner said, on average, Bendigo Health has 1800 in person outpatient clinic appointments per week, which has been scaled back to 600.
Face to face appointments have been replaced by video call or telephone call where possible.
“What this really means is those who need to be seen face to face are in fact coming to the hospital,” he said.
‘It’s an important initiative to keep not only our staff, patients and community safe but also to keep those outpatients safe, to enable then to have their care delivered at home via telephone or skype technology.”
Most pregnant women booked in for birthing at Bendigo Health will still have face to face appointments as will other patients who need to be seen in person.
Non-clinical staff at Bendigo Health are conducting the majority of their meetings via video link and clinical staff are practicing social distancing, Mr Faulkner said.
The service changes follow the suspension of non-emergency dental services at Bendigo Health and the cancellation of non-urgent surgery last month.
Emergency category 1 and urgent category 2 surgeries are still being done at the hospital.
Mr Faulkner said staff impacted by the service changes have been redeployed elsewhere in the organisation.
Bendigo Health Board Chair, Bob Cameron said: “To tackle Coronavirus across the community there’s been a very large reduction in movement of people and its that’s reduction that’s helped bring about a lessening transmission.”
“Just as we’ve reduced traffic in the community, it’s important to reduce traffic here at Bendigo Health. This hospital is a very busy place, we’ve had to take the steps to reduce the number of visitors into the place.”