15.04.2020 16:21 Age: 165 days

Halls Creek COVID-19 update

The WA Country Health Service, Halls Creek Hospital, Yura Yungi Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation (YYMS) and the local community have all come together in response to a number of confirmed COVID cases among healthcare workers at the local hospital.

According to the WA Country Health Service’s Melissa Vernon, a smoking ceremony to promote wellness at the hospital was held by local community members on 14 April with the facility also undergoing a super clean.

“We’ve now had four healthcare workers in Halls Creek test positive to COVID-19 and while we’ve closely followed up all confirmed close contacts, local staff have undertaken a raft of additional work to ensure the hospital remains a safe place,” Ms Vernon said. 

“This includes placing a number of other hospital staff members into isolation as a precautionary measure – despite the fact they have no symptoms.

“As of 13 April, any hospital worker who comes to Halls Creek from outside the Kimberley must have also been in self-isolation for 14 days prior to commencing work.”

Ms Vernon, a senior executive with the WA Country Health Service said she was on-the-ground in Halls Creek leading the organisation’s response in conjunction with dedicated local staff.

“We’re now treating anyone with a cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, temperature, chills or sweats as a possible COVID case and performing a test,” Ms Vernon said.

“We want to get the message out to the Halls Creek community that if you or a family member is sick, the right thing to do is come to the hospital, it is safe and we can help you.

“Please don’t put off coming as the delay may mean your condition gets worse.”

Ms Vernon said the organisation was working alongside YYMS, Halls Creek Police, Halls Creek Shire and other local partner agencies to form a united front to help contain the spread of the virus.

Officer In Charge of Halls Creek Police, Senior Sergeant Dean Bailey said the Halls Creek Hospital doctors, nurses and support staff were in the front line of this pandemic.

“Their courage and devotion to duty is applauded,” Senior Sergeant Bailey said.

“While it is unfortunate that this hospital has some cases within its staff, the containment within the small team of hospital staff shows their infection processes appear to have halted further spread.”  

 YYMS Chief Operating Officer Brenda Garstone said she appreciated that communication between the hospital, Kimberley Public Health Unit and YYMS had improved and ensured relevant information concerning positive cases of COVID-19 were shared in a timely manner.

“While it appears that the recent positive COVID cases have been contained with minimal risk of community transmission, we now have a window of opportunity to work together, revise and strengthen health care practices to ensure that our community is now safe guarded from contracting coronavirus,” Ms Garstone said.