More than 130 WCH staff barred after refusing vaccination

The CEO of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital has revealed that 133 employees in her network refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and are now excluded from the system, but say that there has been no impact on the services.

Lindsey Gough, executive director of the Women’s and Children’s Health Network, told reporters this morning that the 133 employees who refused to be vaccinated came from across the health network, but she was not aware of any doctors who had refused vaccination.

She said the health network had not experienced any staffing problems and the majority of those who have refused to be vaccinated are currently on leave.

“We will take a look at when and when the individuals’ leave period ends, and that will be in line with the health policy of the government and SA,” she said.

Healthcare professionals at public hospitals in South Australia are now legally required to be at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19 and have documentation of a reservation to receive their second vaccine dose during a mandate that went into effect yesterday.

Gough said her network had a business continuity plan in place that allowed it to continue operating under “staff shortages.”

“Because the people who are not vaccinated are spread so widely across the network, it does not cause us any particular problem,” she said.

“We’re a big organization, so 133 is a small number.”

Health Minister Stephen Wade said he did not know how many health workers across other networks refused to be vaccinated.

He said vaccination rates for staff at Northern Adelaide and Flinders and Upper North Local Health Networks were “up about 99 percent”.

“As for the other networks, I think it’s important to understand that the numbers … (included) in their vaccination rates (are) people who are currently on maternity leave and other forms of leave,” he said.

“They are not expected to be vaccinated until they return, so we are very encouraged by the progress of the mandate so far.

“I am informed that none of our local healthcare networks are experiencing any problems with the provision of clinical services as a result of the mandate that went into effect yesterday.”

This comes after the state government today released updated images of the new women’s and children’s hospital, showing where the various clinical rooms are proposed to fit across 12 levels.

Described by Wade as “early high-level conceptual drawings,” the maps map out how the hospital’s various departments and services are proposed to be located inside the new $ 1.95 billion building when it opens to patients in 2027.

According to the plans, which have not yet been completed, the Emergency Department will be located at level two next to the women’s assessment service and the ambulance site.

The main entrance would be located on level three, with an atrium allowing natural light into the building, as well as access to the nearby Royal Adelaide Hospital, car park and park areas.

Outpatient services, operating rooms and specialist wards will be located on the upper levels.

The government is also considering two design options for “warm floors” – areas that it says will accommodate “important services” such as pediatric and neonatal intensive care units, special care baby wards and operating rooms.

Wade said architects and planners sought input from staff and patients before drafting the layout, with the government now urging others to submit feedback over the next three weeks before completing the internal layout.

He said the new women’s and children’s hospital would be “physically larger than our current hospital with a further 59 treatment rooms and 30 extra outpatient clinics”.

But doctors have previously criticized the plans, telling a parliamentary committee in April that the new hospital would be too small and lack facilities.

At the time, they said only 12 intensive care units had been proposed for the new hospital – a smaller one than currently exists – and there were no plans for a “simulation package” to help train new doctors.

Gough said today that the government was “eager to receive further feedback from our clinicians, consumers and communities”.

“National and overseas evidence demonstrates the benefits of a vertically designed hospital, and modern healthcare design will ensure that the new facility can be adapted and responsive to the development of care models, while supporting clinical safety, efficient patient flows, pandemic conditions and rapid and reliable transfers, ”she said.

“We know there is much more detailed architectural work to be done, such as completing individual room sizes, workspaces and office layouts and landscaping, but we are currently focused on getting the clinical spaces in the hospital right as our priority.”

Consultation on the plans is open for a three-week period with closing on 22 November.

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