Sydney’s COVID crisis forces Westmead Hospital into ’emergency operations’

Sydney's growing coronavirus crisis has forced one of its biggest hospitals into "emergency operations", reducing COVID-19 arrivals and shifting critical patients to other facilities.

In a note to colleagues shared on Twitter by Greens MP Cate Faehrmann on Tuesday night, Westmead Hospital acting general manager Jenelle Matic said the hospital was "no longer operating in a business as usual environment".

"We are standing up an emergency operations centre to support an internal disaster management response given the current increase in COVID cases and presentations to the facility," she said.

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"This is to create immediate capacity and response plans along with planning for future scenarios, including prediction and modelling, workforce planning and governance."

According to the memo, the hospital is leaning on its private hospital network for another 100 beds and urgently reviewing critical care capacity, emergency department flow, COVID-19 wards and ambulance arrivals.

The western Sydney facility is cutting the number of COVID-19 patients arriving in ambulances and working to transfer "several critical patients" to other Sydney hospitals.

Western Sydney Local Health District chief executive Graeme Loy said the district was experiencing "unprecedented high demand due to the current COVID-19 outbreak".

"In response we are working with other hospitals to urgently review and prioritise resources," he said.

"We are continuing to receive ambulances and emergency care continues to be available to everyone who needs it."

According to NSW Health statistics, the state's hospitals are caring for 586 COVID-19 patients, 100 of whom are in intensive care and 32 on ventilators.

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Early this month, 36 Westmead Hospital workers were sent into isolation after being classed as close contacts of a colleague infected with COVID-19.

The hospital at the time said the worker appeared to have been infected in the community and patient care was not affected.

NSW recorded 753 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday as hit the 6-million-dose vaccination milestone Premier Gladys Berejiklian had earlier set.

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