Both the Royal Darwin Hospital and the Palmerston Hospital have been plunged into a “Code Yellow” once again as both became overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients and providing other services, the Health Department said.
The Code Yellow enacts “a number of practices and will allow the hospital to closely manage the situation and implement measures to ease pressures on the hospital system”, the government said, including directing non-emergency patients to stay away from the hospital and cancelling elective surgeries.
“The current infection prevention and control measures to manage and isolate COVID-19 positive patients at Royal Darwin Hospital (RDH) has exacerbated capacity issues,” said the statement issued Thursday morning.
“We urge people who have non-emergency health needs to see their GP as soon as they become sick to try to avoid becoming acutely unwell and needing hospital attendance. This helps us care for those who most need a hospital bed.”
The Code Yellow comes after health unions called on the government to declare a “Code Brown” for the entire NT health system that is the highest level of emergency response that can be declared due to exhausted and over-stretched health staff.
But the government rejected those calls on Wednesday.
Opposition CLP Health critic Bill Yan said there was a lack of communication between health executives and health workers.
“The government has not listened to people on the coalface,” he said on Mix 104.9.
“A Code Brown is the most extreme action that can be enacted, and doctors and nurses have been forced to call for this measure because of the Gunner Labor Government’s ignorant mantra of ‘we have everything under control’. Labor is lying to Territorians.”
Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the Health Department was “tracking within where we thought we would be” at this point with COVID-positive cases.
“All our current plans around aggressive suppression and dealing with COVID are working,” he said.
“We need to push through the next couple of weeks. Everyone is doing a huge amount of work and we respect that.”
It’s the fifth Code Yellow called for RDH in the past 12 months.
As of Thursday morning there were 137 patients in hospital, with 21 patients requiring oxygen, with one patient in the ICU.