Latrobe Regional Hospital has tightened restrictions from today in a bid to protect patients and staff against coronavirus.
It comes as the Latrobe Valley has recorded its 11th overall case of COVID-19, while other Gippsland shires also had new infections.
From today, each patient at LRH will be allowed one visitor per day, for one hour between 2.30pm and 3.30pm.
LRH chief operating officer Don McRae said the change to visitor restrictions was one of a raft of measures being implemented.
“We have reduced the hours of visitors to one hour and one visitor. (The visitor) can vary from day to day, they just have to let us know,” Mr McRae said.
“We also will require visitors to wear masks, if they don’t have their own they will be supplied with their own.”
Mr McRae added those attending the hospital’s emergency department were asked to do so alone, “unless they need someone with them”.
“Our waiting room gets very congested and it gets hard to be adequately socially distant; we will also provide masks for everyone in the waiting room,” he said.
“With women in labour we will have one support person allowed to be there with them up until the birth and then after the birth… that will be reverted to the one visitor rule for one hour.
“Women in labour who are well and not displaying symptoms will not need to wear masks.”
Mr McRae added that the restrictions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
“There are exemptions, looking at compassionate grounds if there is someone in palliative care, we would allow family in under a controlled environment,” he said.
“This will also be the case for women who have premature babies or difficult births.
“Exemptions will also be made for support carers for people who have a disability.”
Mr McRae told The Express that LRH had implemented the restrictions for a number of reasons.
“We are looking to try and restrict the flow of people through the hospital to protect our patients,” he said.
“The restrictions also help us conserve our supply of masks and protective equipment.”
“It is also to protect our staff because if our team have to be put into isolation because of an uncontrolled coronavirus case, it would be terrible.”
Mr McRae added the tightened restrictions were part of pre-emptive and preventative measures.
“With the numbers in Melbourne we were expecting to have a few case developments, we are just developing our systems as much as possible. We ask for the public’s patience, we don’t enjoy putting in these restrictions but they are necessary to keep our community safe.”
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, LRH introduced a restricted system where two people were allowed to visit per patient for two hours.