Wimmera and Ararat major health services have welcomed the state government's cash injection to establish more ICU beds and provide additional protective gear in response to COVID-19 but are unsure if they will see any of the funding.
On Wednesday the state government announced it would spend $1.3 billion to establish an extra 4,000 ICU beds and had ordered $1.2 billion worth of equipment and consumables such as additional personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes 551 million gloves, 100 million masks and 14.5 million gowns.
Currently the only facility with dedicated ICU beds in the region is the Wimmera Base Hospital in Horsham, which has five beds.
A spokesman from the Wimmera Health Care Group who operate the Horsham facility said they had not yet been informed what support they would gain from the funding announcement.
"But we certainly welcome this announcement as we do all the support being offered currently by our governments," he said.
"We have been concerned about shortages of personal protective equipment and hand sanitisers because they are mainly produced overseas and have been difficult to import since the COVID-19 outbreak."
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East Grampians Health Services chief executive Andrew Freeman said the funding announcement did not directly affect them as they did not have any ICU beds.
"But it will be a benefit to the whole health care system," he said. "It is hoped we will not need the beds but it is reassuring that the planning and investment has been made."
Stawell Regional Health chief executive Kate Pryde said the cash injection to the health system was "great news" for all Victorians, who would all benefit from the increase in critical care capacity.
"Stawell Regional Health won't receive any of this funding directly as our nearest ICU centre is in Wimmera Health Care, in Horsham, who I believe is significantly ramping up their capacity in terms of expanding facilities and additional critical care and intensive care staff," she said.
"We do not have ICU beds in Stawell. We do have an emergency response ventilator and transport ventilator available."
A spokesperson from West Wimmera Health Services WWHS said they had no ICU beds and were not anticipating setting any up.
"We're hoping that Wimmera Health Care Group will benefit from the extra finding," they said.
At present, Victoria's public and private health services have approximately 450 fully equipped and staffed ICU beds across the state.
This package comes in addition to the $537 million the state Government had already invested in the health system as part of their coronavirus response which has included more beds, ICU equipment and PPE to keep health care workers safe.
The Mail-Times has contacted Rural Northwest Health for comment.
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