Penola Hospital closes Emergency Department

CLOSED: Penola War Memorial Hospital. Photo: Supplied.
CLOSED: Penola War Memorial Hospital. Photo: Supplied.

The Marshall State Government has closed Penola Hospital's Emergency Department, co-located with Pinchunga Aged Care as of Monday March 30, to further safeguard the elderly with low immunity.

The State Government believes these closures will reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection passing onto aged care facilities attached to the centres.

In line with Federal Government guidelines, all residential aged care facilities now only allow a maximum of one visitor per patient with all visits limited to 15 minutes.

The Penola War Memorial Hospital is one of nine country emergency departments also closed down over the past week.

Country emergency departments no longer operating include the Barmera Health Service, Tailem Bend District Hospital, Kapunda Hospital, Eudunda Hospital, Strathalbyn Hospital, Mt Pleasant Hospital, Karoonda and Districts Soldiers' Memorial Hospital, and Gumeracha District Soldiers Memorial Hospital.

Patients presented to Penola Hospital will still be seen and assessed by nursing staff and transferred to Naracoorte or Mount Gambier Hospital by the South Australian Ambulance Service or MedSTAR .

Rural Doctors Association SA president Peter Rischbieth said he believed a solution could have been found that would have kept the emergency departments open and was disappointed in the lack of consultation from the state government, with some hospitals only being given seven hours' notice that the closures were happening.

Limestone Coast Local Health Network Chief Executive Officer, Ngaire Buchanan said in a statement that the change was in the best interest of elderly residents.

"We are taking every possible step to ensure the health and safety of our patients, aged care residents and staff.

"We would like to thank members of our community for their understanding during this time and for adhering to these precautions that will help protect aged care residents," Ms Buchanan said.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms is urged to contact their GP to arrange testing and to self-isolate while awaiting testing.