More questions than answers in hotel plan

Thursday August 06, 2020

Published by The Border Watch

By Raquel Mustillo
State Government’s sudden quarantine site announcement for Mount Gambier takes regional representatives by surprise

MEMBER for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has labelled the State Government’s medi-hotel plan as concerning given the agencies involved had no background or briefing before yesterday’s announcement.

During Tuesday’s visit to the region, Premier Steven Marshall said a makeshift medi-hotel would be established in Mount Gambier for testing and quarantine purposes.

Operational details - including resources, the capacity and location - were not revealed during the visit, but the state’s health department said sites were currently being investigated in the region.

However, Mr Bell said the lack of detail and collaboration with key agencies including police and health was “simply not good enough”.

“The medi-hotel announcement came as a surprise and I am currently seeking more clarity around its exact purpose and location,” he said.

“Community members are concerned over a lack of information and I have questions around resources and staffing.

“It really is concerning the way in which this has been handled.”

Labor parliamentarian Clare Scriven echoed Mr Bell’s concerns about the lack of consultation and questioned the State Government’s approach to the proposal.

“Local people have been left with almost no information about it - the health minister and Premier were unable to answer questions yesterday,” she said.

Limestone Coast Local Health Network executive director of medical services Dr Elaine Pretorius was unable to provide an estimate as to when the facility will be operational.

Despite not yet securing a site, Dr Pretorius said executive staff were preparing ahead of the facility’s opening.

She said the hospital would provide medical support which was likely to have an impact on staffing levels, but unlikely to include staff involved in clinical service delivery. 

“There is not a lot of staff required for a medi-hotel as the hotel has its own security,” she said.

“SA Health will be negotiating to a group of GPs for support for scripts for patients.

“There will be an impact on our nursing staff... it might involve people who have been working for an agency and cannot go interstate, or it might be people who worked for aged care and we asked them not to return because we do not want them working alongside acute services.”

In announcing the control measure, Health Minister Stephen Wade said Adelaide’s existing medi-hotels had supported a range of individuals, including international arrivals, essential travellers and confirmed COVID19 cases.

Dr Pretorius said seasonal workers, university students returning to South Australia from Victoria and individuals who are unable to safely self-isolate in their home will among those to housed at the Mount Gambier medi-hotel.

She said the state’s exemption committee and border patrols would determine whether travellers will be required to isolate in the medi-hotel rather than their homes.

“The last thing seasonal workers want to do is drive to Adelaide to quarantine in a medi-hotel there and then have to drive back to the region to start their job,” she said.

“It will also support university students who want to return to South Australia and may want to stay in Mount Gambier to quarantine instead of driving to Adelaide.

“People who have a COVID-19 diagnosis who are not sick enough to go to a hospital can use it.

“There are other people, including those of course who have to self-isolate and cannot do it safely in their home environment because there are spatial challenges or other people.”

The State Government was contacted for comment.