Victoria was prepared for ‘large numbers of people’ to need ventilators
It’s not aaaall about vaccines, Victoria’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (PAEC) has been busy today too.
*for this GIF to be relevant, I’m going to need you to replace “Marcia” with “vaccines” and imagine that Jan is Victoria’s PAEC…
Here’s the latest about the PAEC hearings from reporter Leonie Thorne:
Victoria’s health department had prepared for up to 4,000 people a day to require a ventilator during the early days of the pandemic, Victoria’s PAEC has been told.
The committee is looking at the state government’s performance during the 2019-2020 financial year.
Inquiry documents showed in that period the then Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, which has since been split into different departments, spent $274 million to “cope with the increased demand of the pandemic”.
Euan Wallace, the secretary of the department of health, said the funding was spent mostly around preparing hospitals for the pandemic and sourcing equipment.
“You might recall back that in March and April last year there were predictions of requiring about 4,000 ICU beds, 4,000 ventilator spaces – now that is a time that had about 500 to 515 ventilators in the state,” he told the inquiry.
“And so funding was rapidly allocated to be able to source staff and equipment, and redesign of our hospitals to allow us to provide up to 4,000 ventilator spaces.
“Thankfully that never eventuated for the state, nor indeed for anywhere else in the country – but again we just have to look today to the US, to western Europe, to UK etc, to see that they’re still trying to manage that sort of problem.
“Broadly it was around retooling our hospitals so they were ready for receiving patients, sourcing equipment so that if we needed large numbers of people on ventilators the equipment was there, retraining staff — we had staff training in ICU and other branches of medicine and nursing they weren’t currently working in — and then providing additional payments to reduce staff movements.”
Money was also spent on preparing a surge workforce; the department used about 25,000 nursing shifts through an agency in a short four-month period, Professor Wallace said.