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Victoria to establish medi-hotels for Covid patients to ease severe pressure on hospitals | Victoria


The Victorian government has established two medi-hotels to house Covid patients in a bid to alleviate the strain on the state’s hospitals.

From Monday, two of Victoria’s quarantine hotels will be converted to facilities for Covid-19 patients, in partnership with the Melbourne Health and Northern Health services.

Victorian health authorities say the Pullman Melbourne and the Mantra Epping will eventually accommodate up to 300 patients once fully operational.

At a press conference on Friday, the acting health minister, James Merlino, said all patients would be medically assessed by the hospitals before transfer to ensure they were well enough to be relocated. “They’ll remain under the care of the hospital and still be considered an inpatient even while they’re in the medi-hotel.”

Adam Horsburgh, deputy state controller of health system operations, said the medi-hotels would “free up hospital beds for those who most need them”.

The announcement comes as the surging Omicron variant continues to place severe strain on the state’s health system. On Monday, Ambulance Victoria issued its second “code red” in a week as a result of the pressures from the pandemic.

There are currently 976 people being treated in Victorian hospitals, including 112 in intensive care.

On Friday, the state reported 34,836 new Covid cases, bringing the total number of active cases in Victoria to 239,396. There were 18 deaths in the last 24 hours.

Horsburgh said: “These hotels will be able to accommodate patients who are both Covid-positive or who may be recovering from Covid and are likely … self-caring, but may need some ongoing clinical monitoring or support and care provided by allied health professionals.”

“During the early stages, patients will be referred either from the Northern hospital or the Royal Melbourne into these two hotels. But as the program develops, they will be able to accept referrals from hospitals across the system in Victoria.”

Medi-hotel patients will receive care from hospital-in-the-home teams. “Those teams will be able to work much more efficiently than they would normally by not having to move between patients’ homes,” Horsburgh said.

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Emma Cassar, the head of Victoria’s quarantine program, said the medi-hotels were distinct from the state’s quarantine hotels. “We still have to maintain our capacity within the quarantine program for unvaccinated international arrivals and for members of the public and frontline workers who can’t self-isolate at home,” she said.

Cassar said the Pullman Melbourne and the Mantra Epping performed highly on ventilation assessments, with each room fitted with an air purifier. “They are the highest standard of ventilation for the hotels that we can have.”

The announcement was welcomed by the Victorian branch of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation.

ANMF Victoria’s acting secretary, Paul Gilbert, said the services would free up beds but also ease the pressure on nurses caring for Covid patients.

“Every nurse and midwife in our hospitals and health services is working above and beyond anything experienced before trying to care for an increasing number of patients with fewer staff because they are Covid positive or are close contacts,” Gilbert said in a statement.

“The furloughing of thousands of staff, causing the last-resort move to surge workforce models, is taking a toll on exhausted nurses and midwives who’ve worked through this pandemic in varying degrees of crisis-mode for almost two years.”

On Friday the New South Wales premier, Dominic Perrottet, ruled out a similar program in the state, pointing to updated modelling released by the state’s health department which showed hospitalisations were tracking below best-case scenarios released last week.

“The tracking today is very reassuring, please don’t take that to mean the health system isn’t under pressure, we’re in a pandemic, all hospital systems are under pressure right around the world,” he said.

“What you can see today is that we should have confidence that we have the capacity within our system.”

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