Mount Gambier Hospital

Tuesday October 26, 2021

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:18): My question is to the Premier. Can the Premier assure the people of the Limestone Coast that Mount Gambier hospital is fully prepared and equipped for an increase in positive COVID numbers, given that we are 450 kilometres away from Adelaide and metropolitan hospitals could be at capacity?


The Hon. S.S. MARSHALL (Dunstan—Premier) (15:18): It's a very good question. There are some anxious people because they have been able to see what has happened in other jurisdictions in terms of hospitalisation. That is why we have waited to lift those border restrictions to a point that we have a good vaccination level here in South Australia. The experts determine that that is at 80 per cent double-vaccinated, 16 and over, but we are not satisfied with that. That is just the threshold to allow those border restrictions to be removed.

We also know that the hospitalisation rate is massively diminishing as people become more vaccinated. Also, the drugs and the treatment for those who are hospitalised and are COVID positive mean that there are fewer and fewer people who are ending up in ICU on ventilators and ultimately paying the ultimate price for this terrible disease. The reality is that, as we move closer to the higher vaccination rates, we put ourselves in a much better position. We haven't been prepared to do it up to that point in time, but we are following that health advice.

The other area where we are following the health advice is on the level of resources that we need to cope with the inevitable advent of Delta here in South Australia. By and large, the work that requires to hospitalisation will actually occur in metropolitan Adelaide, so the vast majority will be in the Royal Adelaide Hospital, at the Flinders Medical Centre and the Women's and Children's Hospital for different reasons. The Royal Adelaide Hospital will be the workhorse of the overall hospitalisation requirement. That's because it has extraordinarily good capability in terms of ventilation, so that is deemed the best hospital to do the vast majority of that work.

The Women's and Children's Hospital, of course, will be for young patients who might be COVID positive requiring hospitalisation. Very small numbers are predicted in that area but, nevertheless, that's where the health professionals' advice would be the very best place for that. Flinders Medical Centre will be for women who are pregnant. They have their specialist services there, so that's the arrangement there. We do know, though, that we want to increase the overall capacity of our health system across South Australia, and this is why we have put the COVID-ready package in place, which will create approximately 400 additional places right across the system.

There will be more information which is provided as we get closer to 23 November with regard to the precise model of care for people, but it is very much changing. As you would be more than aware at the moment, Mr Speaker, we have a situation where every person who is COVID positive goes into the Tom's Court Hotel. Ultimately, if people then need treatment, they will go into the Royal Adelaide. It's a very small hospitalisation rate, even at the moment, into the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Going forward, we will have many more people who are COVID positive, and the vast majority of those will not be in the Tom's Court Hotel: they will be in their own home quarantine arrangement. But there will be some who do not have an appropriate isolation facility at home who we will need to provide alternative accommodation for, and that's why we are keeping that hotel quarantine capability in place but the overflow—the movement from there—will be into those three major hospitals in the first instance.