Weird COVID-19 impact on Gold Coast hospitals
HEALTH authorities concerned at the number of Gold Coasters spooked out of seeking medical treatment because of coronavirus fears have made an appeal: "If you are sick, come and see us."
The call comes as the region's new COVID-19 cases drop again, in what is seen to be a lull before an expected peak in the pandemic in midwinter.
The Gold Coast University Hospital, usually home to the country's busiest emergency departments, has seen a significant drop in presentations since the outbreak began.
Figures for the past month have yet to be released, but concerned doctors have warned locals - particularly people with chronic illnesses - not to go without the care they need.
Dr Audra Gedmintas, clinical director in charge of ED and ICU at the university hospital, said she was seeing growing numbers of patients who have left treatment to the last minute.
"We have been actually very quiet in the emergency department and across the hospital, and certainly noticed a drop off in emergency and through into the hospital," she said.
"Obviously people are scared and worried about the coronavirus, but we have had a lot of time to prepare in order to get ready for coronavirus, which means our hospital is an incredibly safe place.
"Those who have coronavirus or are at risk of having it are treated in a completely separate area to the rest of the population."
Dr Gedmintas said doctors did not want patients waiting until their condition became unbearable, because it might be harder to treat and put more pressure on the health system.
"We really don't want people waiting at home until things get bad," Dr Gedmintas said.
"For instance, we have seen a number children presenting late with diabetic complications. Normally these kids would present a lot earlier in their illness.
"I think people believe they are really taking care of us by not coming in, but we are here to look after everybody, not just COVID patients."
"People presenting with chest pain and chronic diseases are not bothering us.
"It is better to see us earlier so we can treat you as early as we can and then get you back home."
Until early evening, just one patient was diagnosed with coronavirus on the Gold Coast yesterday, with cases in the city steady.
The number of confirmed cases in the city now sits at 178. Of these, 31 were confirmed in the past week.
Statewide the numbers were equally as optimistic, with just nine new cases confirmed in Queensland yesterday - the lowest jump for weeks.
Originally published as Weird COVID-19 impact on Gold Coast hospitals