Mar 29
A letter to the Bathurst Community

​Dear People of Bathurst,

COVID 19 is here in Bathurst and your actions this weekend and over the coming weeks and months will decide whether our local health system can cope or not. Your actions will impact us all.

Our region has a disproportionately high number of confirmed cases for our population size with further cases expected to be confirmed over the coming days.

In some ways, the Bathurst Health System is disadvantaged by its limited resources compared to bigger tertiary centres.

In many ways we are privileged because we are small enough to allow for a coordinated response across the various healthcare services in the region. ​

Collaboration between GPs, hospital doctors, Community Health, Residential Aged Care Facilities and the Ambulance Service has been underway with teams working around the clock to develop pathways to manage the anticipated increased demand on our health service.

Rest assured we are doing everything humanly possible to serve our community and care for those of you who will become sick with COVID 19 or need medical care for other issues during the pandemic.

What can you do to help? First and most importantly, STAY HOME. Follow the advice to socially distance yourself when you must go out in public and practice regular and thorough hand washing. This will slow the transmission rate through our community.

If you become unwell with a respiratory illness i.e. cough, sore throat, fevers, runny nose, SELF ISOLATE and call your GP.

A pivotal part of the COVID 19 response locally is for hospital avoidance wherever possible. Leave the hospital for those who are very sick and need specialist interventions. Most people with COVID 19 will have a mild to moderate illness and will get better with nothing more than rest, drinking plenty of fluids and regular paracetamol. For these people, there is no need for antibiotics or any other prescribed medications.

There is no need to leave your house. Your GP will assess you over the phone and decide if you need testing. We do not have the resources to test everyone but if we think you have symptoms of COVID 19 and you're at high risk of complications we will try to get you tested.

Regardless of whether you are tested or not, if you have a respiratory illness you should assume you have COVID 19 and self-isolate to stop the transmission further in the community.

If you test positive for COVID 19, your GP will be monitoring you via telehealth consultations on a daily basis. If it seems that you are becoming more unwell and needing other interventions like oxygen, you will be referred to the hospital. They will assess you and decide where the best place to look after you is. That may still be at home or it may be in the hospital.

Our health resources are limited and precious. We must all be trying to avoid unnecessary visits to the GP and the emergency department. We have worked hard together to create pathways that best utilise our health service and we depend on you to help us help you.

STAY HOME. If you are sick with a respiratory illness then SELF ISOLATE and call your usual GP for advice. If it is afterhours and you cannot speak with your usual GP, call the Marathon Health afterhours GP on 02 6333 2888.

This is a joint statement by Dr Sarah Koffmann (GP and Practice owner), Dr Bridget Elbourne (Respiratory Physician), Dr Danielle Morris (Director of Hopsital in The Home), Dr Pavan Phanindra (A/Director of ED), Dr Ray Parkin (Cardiologist and D/Director of Medical Services) Dr Rachel Preece (Renal Physician, Executive Medical Director), Cathy Marshall (Bathurst Hospital General Manager) and Andrew Harvey CEO Western NSW PHN