A detection of COVID-19 fragments in the sewage of Griffith last week raised the alarm about threat of a potential outbreak and concerns remain about what happens if cases do begin to appear and once NSW moves towards re-opening later next month.
Murrumbidgee Local Health District has prepared a plan which will see the region's major hospital's Griffith Base and Wagga Base provide treatment for COVID-19 patients.
MLHD CEO Jill Ludford outlined a plan for patients to isolate at safely isolate at home and receive treatment and health checks. For people who can't safely isolate at home, there is supported accommodation.
Ms Ludford said if patients' conditions deteriorated they would be taken to hospital. She said facilities with residential aged care services would not be used to for COVID patients.
On Monday, MLHD's executive medical services director Len Bruce encouraged residents to get vaccinated and if they have even the mildest of symptoms, to get tested.
"Please don't try and save us from a lockdown, go have a test," he said.
Member for Murray Helen Dalton is concerned the district's health services will soon become overwhelmed, with the inquiry into health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional and remote NSW highlighting numerous issues.
Mrs Dalton, who pushed for an inquiry into regional health after being elected, had encouraged people to share their experiences.
"They're absolutely overwhelmed with submissions, over 700 of them," she said.
She said for a time she was receiving almost daily calls from health staff worried about staffing, resources and more in the region's hospitals.
"They're too frightened to say anything publicly because they will be bullied out of the system," she said.
A spreadsheet of information will be given to the inquiry when it meets virtually next month. Mrs Dalton said there was a risk that someone from Sydney who is double vaccinated could spread the virus in regional NSW.
"We don't have a negative pressure room in Griffith Base Hospital, no full-time doctor at Leeton (hospital) and only six ventilators in the Murray electorate and I don't know if we have the nurses with the skills to operate them," she said.
"It's not the fault of the staff, they were overwhelmed and overworked before (COVID)."
Griffith Local Health Advisory Committee chairwoman Margaret King said she was "absolutely confident" that MLHD had done everything possible in the last 18 months to prepare for an outbreak.
Mrs King said that preparation had happened behind the scenes but standing up multiple test locations when needed across the MLHD area and deploying a mobile testing van were two examples.
"Wagga Base and Griffith Base hospitals are prepared, if the cases come they've done preparation to hit the ground running," she said.
"At a moment's notice they can clear a ground flood and start treating for COVID."
Griffith mayor John Dal Broi said people had been on tenterhooks when the positive sewage test had been announced.
However, the positive sewage test came about, he said it was a reminder to get tested and vaccinated.
"That's what we can do as individuals," Councillor Dal Broi said.
"I've had both mine and I was waiting for the jab and I didn't even feel it. Having had both, there is a sense of relief knowing that I have some protection."
He said he knew some people who were hesitant about getting vaccinated but recent test results and case numbers in the eastern Riverina had changed
"I have every faith in staff at Griffith Base Hospital and St Vincent's, baring any unforeseen catastrophe, our health service will handle it."
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