Moree Hospital: emergency department presentations drop due to COVID-19 pandemic, less injuries as the public stay indoors

STAY SAFE: Hunter New England Health executive director rural and regional health services Susan Heyman. Photo: File
STAY SAFE: Hunter New England Health executive director rural and regional health services Susan Heyman. Photo: File

EMERGENCY department visits plummeted by more than 23 per cent at Moree Hospital amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It seems the 'stay home, stay safe' message did more than just reduce the spread of coronavirus - it protected the public from broken bones, influenza and all the risks associated with the great outdoors.

Hunter New England Health executive director rural and regional health services Susan Heyman said fear of the virus also played a part in the 613 less patients who presented at Moree's ED, revealed in the latest Bureau of Health Information data.

"People were choosing to stay at home and not go out as much, as a result of that we weren't in a situation where they could get hurt or need the ED," she said.

"Hotels were closed, sport was called off; so we didn't have those fractures and injuries we usually see."

The National Cabinet suspended all elective surgeries in March to make way for an expected surge of COVID-19 patients, with the exception of some urgent and semi-urgent operations.

Moree Hospital performed 50 fewer elective surgeries this quarter, half of those performed in the same period last year.

Despite the 'new normal' processes, the hospital managed to keep ED wait times on track.

Ms Heyman said it all came down to developing clear systems that got people seen quickly and safely.

"I think for everyone in the country the first wave of COVID-19 was less serious than we feared," she said.

"We didn't know what we would face because the UK and Europe were in such dire straights, but we didn't see the sort of numbers we planned for.

"I do want to acknowledge our staff, the work they have done and their commitment to perform well under stress and pressure.

"Despite the uncertainty of COVID-19 they remained focused on patients, families and the community and that needs to be commended."

The number of patients admitted to Moree Hospital only dropped by one per cent, however interestingly, there were 23 per cent less babies born. All up, a total of 27 babies were born in Moree from April to June this year, down from 35 born in the same period last year.

Across the state, the number of patients admitted to NSW hospitals dropped by 16.5 per cent from April to June.

This story Emergency visits plummet in unexpected side of pandemic first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.