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Townsville HHS COVID-19 response to wind back

Published:  08 July 2022

Townsville HHS COVID-19 response to wind back
Townsville Hospital and Health Service (HHS) COVID-19 executive lead Judy Morton has today updated the community on upcoming changes to testing and vaccinations.
Ms Morton said the Townsville HHS would begin to step back from testing and vaccinations over the coming weeks to enable staff to return to their frontline roles in response to the number of seriously unwell patients presenting for care to our facilities.
“At the moment, we are managing a lot of acutely unwell patients right across our HHS and we’re now preparing to move our staff back to their frontline positions to care for these people,” she said.
“This means our last day of vaccinating at the Woodman Court vaccination clinic will be 21 August, marking the end of 16 months of work to protect the community.
“We stayed in the vaccination business for as long as we could because we wanted to give our community as much time as possible to access the vaccine and it is time for our staff to return to their usual duties.”
COVID-19 vaccination lead Debbie Maclean said the closure of the clinic will mean that administering the fourth dose of the vaccination, approved by ATAGI this week for over 30s, will continue to be available through GPs and pharmacists.
“With 92.6 per cent of the community with their double dose and 63.6 per cent with their booster, it is time for our staff to return to their frontline roles and delivering high quality care for North Queenslanders,” she said.
“ATAGI has just announced the fourth dose is now recommended for those over 50 and suggested for anyone over 30, so until 21 August this will be accessible at Woodman Court and after this date from GPs or pharmacies.
“Since we began vaccinating the community against COVID-19, and since then our team has administered more than 263,000 doses of the vaccine, conducted 522 pop-up clinics, and visited 195 different locations.
“Our last day vaccinating in the clinic will be Sunday 21 August, and we would really encourage anyone who still needs their first dose or is due for their second or booster to walk-in and get it done now.”
Ms Morton said the testing clinic at 1300 Smiles would also be closing as of Friday 22 July.
“With the availability of RAT kits and the need to begin moving staff back to their frontline duties, the time has also come to close the testing clinic at 1300 Smiles,” she said.
“We will continue to provide the community with free RAT kits, and we will have more information available about our new RAT distribution location this over the coming weeks.
“What is important for our community to remember is that if they are unwell, they should still test using a RAT kit and isolate while displaying symptoms.
“We also ask the community to not present to our emergency department (ED) for a COVID-19 test. Our ED cannot provide you with a PCR.
‘’RATs are the preferred method for testing, and we need to keep our emergency staff available to assist our most severely unwell and injured patients.”
Ms Morton said although the HHS response was winding back, the community should remain vigilant and protect themselves as much as possible from COVID-19.
“COVID-19 is a serious disease still spreading throughout the community and it’s important we continue to maintain our public health measures such as testing, vaccinating, hand washing, wearing a mask and physically distancing.
“Positive RAT results should also still be reported to Queensland Health via the website.”
Townsville HHS acting chief executive Stephen Eaton said the COVID-19 response had been a huge task supported right across the HHS and the staff had done an incredible job.
“We always knew the pandemic response was going to a mammoth job, but we also knew it was essential for protecting our community as much as possible against COVID-19,” he said.
“Our vaccination teams have been travelling many kilometres throughout the HHS. They’ve worked long shifts, knocked on doors and attended countless community and public events to ensure every corner of our health service had access to the vaccine.
“Similarly, our testing teams worked in often gruelling conditions and swabbed thousands of community members.
“I’ve very proud of the effort that has gone in to providing this essential care for our region, without our dedicated staff none of this would have been possible.
“I’d like to thank each and every staff member involved in the COVID-19 response effort, what has been achieved by our health service will go down in history and is nothing short of amazing
‘‘I’d also like to thank the community for its continued support and vigilance as we work together to keep one another safe and well.’’
For the opening hours of the Woodman Court Vaccination clinic, visit the Townsville HHS website.
For more information on COVID-19 visit the Queensland Health website.

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