Just like all over the world, the Australian healthcare industry faced many challenges in providing medical services during the lockdowns.
In addition to COVID-19, widespread wildfires that erupted in Australia also limited the provision of medical services.
But as the viral disease was spreading throughout the country, the National Cabinet and regional health systems used a variety of ways to limit the disease and provide efficient treatments.
They responded with measures like a quarantine system with advanced processing facilities, procurement of additional protective equipment, test facilities, contact tracing, and hotel quarantine regulations (Medi Hotels).
And in this article, we’ll go over some of these measures and how they helped fight the pandemic.
There was an increased focus on telehealth
The government introduced a new telemedicine MBS (Medicare) law to ensure that Australians continue to have safe access to basic medical care.
As a result, many medical professionals like the Australian Dental Specialists were able to consult by phone or video conference as part of the MBS. This, as you can imagine, drastically reduced the health system’s workload and viral transmission.
This also helped in developing infrastructure that could provide health services remotely in different parts of Australia regardless of whether they are urban or rural. With the new remote telehealth services in place, the health services in Australia are now ready to cope with any future calamity!
Australia became the first country outside China to isolate COVID from patient samples
Australia became an “early leader” in the Covid-19 test when Melbourne’s Peter Doherty Institute became the first laboratory outside of China to successfully isolate coronavirus from patient samples.
This gave international laboratories important information on how to fight the virus, which was extremely helpful in kick-starting the fight against the pandemic.
Australia was also among one of the first countries to introduce a transit clinic for COVID-19 testing. This meant that you could confidently access the Covid-19 test through a reliable medical system.
Plus, Australia remained vigilant about testing even when the number of cases began to decline or reached zero! So early testing, accessible healthcare, and good public health measures all played an important role in controlling the pandemic.
Non-urgent surgeries were suspended
After the decision of the National Cabinet, non-urgent surgeries were suspended, which significantly reduced the total number of surgeries during the pandemic and helped curb transmission.
The government also partnered with private hospitals to support COVID-19 counter-measures in a variety of ways.
For example, it allocated some funds to keep the private hospitals working, which in turn provided support staff and facilities to reduce the impact of the virus. And this government-private partnership proved to be very effective in curbing the pandemic.
There was in increased demand for mental health services
The Australian government did a good job of predicting and monitoring the pandemic’s effect on mental health.
Although Covid is a physical disease, widespread lockdowns meant that there was a lot of stress among the masses. Other factors that negatively impacted mental health include:
- Loss of human interaction
- Restriction on movement
- Loss of employment
- Remote working, which took people some time to adjust to
The government reacted to increased rates of loneliness by making telemedicine services widespread. It also supported online and telephone support organizations which saw a significant rise in demand during the pandemic.
Drugs for respiratory conditions were made easily available
Since COVID is a respiratory disease, people who already have long-term lung conditions like asthma and COPD are at an increased risk of developing severe complications.
So drugs for asthma and COPD saw increased demand and the Australian government took the right steps to make sure people were always stocked up with these drugs during the lockdown.
It did this via something called the Benefits Scheme (‘PBS’), which:
- Included recommendations for delivery services
- Allowed doctors and pharmacies greater flexibility in prescribing and dispensing drugs
- Supported medicine storage facilities
Hospitals maintained high hand hygiene standards
The Australian healthcare system was pretty compliant with the country’s hospital hand hygiene standards even before the virus broke out. And this continued during the Covid-19 pandemic, where hand hygiene standards were raised even higher and followed even more strictly.
Although this looks minor, it played a major role in ensuring that you and your loved ones don’t get the virus from a healthcare worker!
All in all, while the pandemic did cause a lot of damage, it also taught us important lessons that should be remembered.
The significance of hand hygiene goes beyond the pandemic and is something that should be taught in schools, so future generations could be more prepared than us should another pandemic arise!