A significant COVID-19 outbreak among the staff of Townsville University Hospital (TUH) in North Queensland has led to the suspension of some elective surgeries and slower operations in the emergency department. Over 100 employees are currently on sick leave due to the virus, impacting the hospital's functionality and affecting the Townsville Hospital and Health Service (THHS) workforce.
Impact on Hospital Operations
The THHS workforce, comprising more than 7,000 individuals, serves a broader area that includes Ingham, Charters Towers, Ayr, and Townsville. The surge in staff sickness due to COVID-19 has significantly affected the operations of the hospital, particularly in the emergency department. Some elective surgeries have also been suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
A Notable Increase in Staff Sickness
The current situation presents a significant escalation in staff sickness compared to early November when only 20 cases were reported among the staff. As of Thursday afternoon, the number of affected staff has risen to over 100, marking a considerable increase in a short period.
Measures in Response to the Crisis
Kieran Keyes, the chief executive of THHS, has reassured the public that established COVID-19 procedures are in operation. Staff are being redeployed to assist in critical areas, and those who test positive are required to isolate for five days. He also urged community members who are not up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations to book appointments with their GPs and get their boosters. In addition to the staff outbreak, THHS also reported 19 inpatients with COVID-19, marking an increase from seven in early November.
As the traditional custodians of the land, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to be recognized by THHS as they navigate this health crisis. Keyes apologized for the longer wait times that patients may experience during this period but remains hopeful that the situation will soon be under control.