Masks required at far west NSW health services

PEOPLE have been urged to think if they need to visit their health service at this time, as new restricted visiting hours are enforced at Far West Local Health District (FWLHD) health services.

The Balranald Multi-Purpose Service is a health service within the FWLHD.

Visitor hours at FWLHD health services were further restricted as an added precaution to prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 in those facilities.

Visitor hours are restricted to 10am to 12noon and 5pm to 7pm each day. This is in addition to visitor measures already in place at FWLHD health services to ensure patient and staff safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They do not impact on people with health appointments or attending the emergency department.

FWLHD chief executive Umit Agis said the extra visitor arrangements aim to further protect hospital patients, and those more vulnerable to the virus, as well as our staff and ultimately the community.

"I ask everyone to really think about whether they need to visit their health service at this time," he said.

"We want to minimise, as much as we can, non-essential foot traffic through the health service. This will help in the event of an outbreak and contact tracing is required."

He said individual circumstances impacted by the new arrangements may be considered on a case-by-case basis through requests to health service management.

The new arrangements will be in place indefinitely at this stage.

Meanwhile, anyone visiting a patient in a FWLHD facility is asked to bring their own mask or face covering to wear, as part of new COVID-19 measures to prevent an outbreak of the virus in LHD facilities.

The wearing of a mask or face covering whilst visiting a patient in a FWLHD facility was made mandatory last week.

"The health service is now asking visitors to bring their own mask or face covering. This will assist the health service in the management of its supply of masks for use by staff and patients," a spokesperson said.

This rule also applies to anyone attending a medical appointment in a FWLHD health service.

"The new NSW Health advice on mask use is underpinned by expert risk assessments. Mask wearing is another defence against COVID-19 but it is not a substitute for other established precautions such as hand hygiene and physical distancing," the spokesperson said.

NSW Health has also directed all health workers in public hospitals must now wear a surgical mask if they are working within 1.5m of patients. Patients admitted to hospital are also strongly encouraged to wear a mask, especially when they are leaving their room, where possible.