25 May 2020

COVID-19 Surge Centre set for the winter rush no one wants to see

| Ian Bushnell
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Canberra Health Services Deputy Chief Executive Dave Peffer

Canberra Health Services Deputy Chief Executive Dave Peffer outside the new Surge Centre on Garran Oval. Photos: Michelle Kroll.

The ACT’s $23 million COVID-19 insurance policy is ready for the ‘go’ button to be pushed after a fast-tracked build and fit-out.

The temporary 50-bed COVID-19 Surge Centre sprang up on Garran Oval in just 37 days and is poised to be activated if the Canberra Hospital is overwhelmed by an outbreak during the winter when the flu season is usually in full swing.

It’s the bespoke medical facility that the government doesn’t want to have to use.

The resuscitation area

The resuscitation area.

”No one buys insurance hoping they’ll crash their car, they have it in case and this is part of our in case plan for the Territory,” said Deputy Chief Executive of Canberra Health Services Dave Peffer yesterday (21 May) at a walk-through of the new facility.

The government allocated $23 million to contract local health services outfit Aspen Medical to deliver and run the facility, which was designed in partnership with the World Health Organisation.

One of the pods

One of the pods.

But that breaks down into $10.5 million for the build, $3.5 million for equipment and supplies, and $9 million for staffing which may not be spent if the ACT continues to not have any cases, as was the situation yesterday.

It is now a piece of mobile medical infrastructure owned by the Territory.

”The facility has been designed and built in such a way that it can be demobilised at the appropriate time and stored in 20-foot shipping containers,” Mr Peffer said. “It has a bar code system so it can be rapidly redeployed to a location.”

It could also be sold if the government wanted to.

Divided into two sections for suspect-COVID and COVID-positive patients and separated by a ”green zone” corridor, the secured centre is designed to scale up as required to meet demand as and if it arises.

That will occur if Canberra’s hospitals cannot cope with the number of COVID-19 cases, but the surge centre will still take three weeks to come online.

It uses a multiple pods system that can be activated one after the other or all at the same time.

Within each side of the surge centre are triage areas, PPE donning and doffing areas, resuscitation beds, general beds, safe medicine dispensing units and toilets.

Refrigeration panelling has been used to divide spaces because it withstands constant abrasive chemical cleaning, critical when dealing with a disease such as COVID-19. The air is also filtered and expelled.

Some of the fixtures such as the medicine dispensing units were manufactured locally.

A security room with surveillance screens will monitor the facility.

Outside is an ambulance reception area, while those who may self-present will be screened at a nearby carpark.

While having a 50-bed unit sited so near the main campus might be tempting, it remains a dedicated facility that will only be used for treating COVID-19 patients.

Mr Peffer said there were no plans to use it for pandemic training exercises but a range of teams across CHS were looking at opportunities for the facility and where it could be deployed in future use.

The government chose the Garran site due to its proximity to the Canberra Hospital campus facilities, including the Intensive Care Unit, Emergency Department and Pathology.

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Stanford estimates the fatality rate is 0.26%. More than the flu. But does it warrant blanket lockdown, particularly given variances in risk across different age groups?

“Those of us who survived”.

Genuine question. What do people think is the fatality rate for covid 19?

Building the facility was based on a model. I’d like to see it.

Its a $23 million white elephant. I wont get used. Nice little earner though…
Covid19 is more about re-engineering society and control by fear.
Lets be honest – it looks like a bioweapon, acts like a bioweapon…hmm….
If youre over 70, yep not good, but the rest of us shoudl be let to just get on with things.
And hey, if you trust someone with a rushed vaccine to jab it into your rear end…well….stay the hell away from me. Chnaces are you will be a bigger problem than the viurus.
And its an RNA vaccine, youve just had your DNA changed..congrats. Your great grandkids will not thank you for it…as thier DNA will also be tainted.

Wow if it is doing that then this is the worlds biggest scam ever. It has AlamosT every country and every political party all playing from the same song book.

Is it better to have something that will actually be used?

The temporary facilities in US have all been disbanded.


Timmy Holness4:29 pm 22 May 20

When all is said and done it’s extra emergency beds for a growing city. In the meantime, it’s fantastic to see our wonderful government ready willing and able to combat this pandemic head-on and who knows, we may be able to assist other states in their fight because that is what we do.

Most of the US is not like New York, including cities like LA.

It would be interesting to see the modeling at time decision was made to build it v. now.

Virtually nothing remains of Garran oval and the sports fields used by Garran Primary School after construction of this $23 million “insurance policy”.
The needs of these kids for exercise, fun, fitness and play have been sacrificed to pander to the selfishness and paranoia of the few.

Capital Retro10:07 am 22 May 20

“It’s the bespoke medical facility that the government doesn’t want to have to use.”

What was the name of that “drink you have when your not having a drink”?

Shame on the ACT Govt for not investing enough in Canberra Hospital. Now we have a $23m white elephant that will have to be removed when the emergency orders are lifted in June. Aspen promised it would take 72 hours to set up (Rioact 2 April). Now 6 weeks later we have no COVID-19 cases and no need for the hospital. The ACT Govt should be ashamed that Barr and the Greens wasted $1.5b on the tram, when a small portion of that would have made a significant difference to the health system.

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