COVID-19 Health System Response Strategy

SA Heath is implementing updated plans for managing the surge of Omicron cases in South Australia’s hospital system to ensure that demand can be managed across the state.

These updated plans build on the strong foundation of planning for the COVID-19 Health System Response Strategy released in November 2021, including the Acute Response Strategy for our hospital sector.

The Omicron variant has provided a new set of challenges, with an increased volume of cases. The system planned for 85% of COVID-19 positive cases to be treated at home or supported in hospital in the hotel accommodation, 10 % in short stay COVID Care Centres to receive treatment and 5% would require hospitalisation.

Currently with the Omicron outbreak, less than 1% of COVID-19 cases have required hospitalisation, but the volume of cases is much higher.

It is expected that:

  • 98% of positive COVID-19 Omicron cases will experience mild to moderate symptoms and will be able to safely isolate in their own home
  • Less than 1% of positive cases will require supported care (i.e. Hospital in the Hotel)
  • Less than 1% of positive cases will require hospitalisation or require acute care (i.e COVID Care Centres)

SA Health anticipated approximately 300 COVID-19 positive cases would be in hospital at any one time under the Delta planning, with numbers building over several months. We are now planning to manage up to 500 cases in hospital.

Our public hospitals are now preparing to provide more beds dedicated to care for COVID-19 patients:

  • The Royal Adelaide Hospital will increase its capacity from 200 to 300 COVID-19 inpatients.
  • The Flinders Medical Centre will treat up to 100 COVID-positive patients in the south and will continue to treat pregnant women and their babies.
  • The Lyell McEwin Hospital will treat up to 100 COVID-positive patients in the northern suburbs.
  • The Women’s and Children’s Hospital continues to care for children with COVID-19 in hospital and under the COVIDKids Program.
  • Regional hospitals across the state are already treating local COVID-positive patients and will continue to do so, with planned increases in capacity and capability.

SA Health is partnering with the private sector to transfer some non-COVID inpatient activity to private hospitals to free up capacity for the dedicated 500 ward beds for COVID-19 patients. The private sector is making a significant contribution to the Omicron response in SA.

More than 70% of the additional 392 beds that the state commissioned last year are also in place, providing a substantial increase in capacity to respond to the COVID peak.

In addition to increasing and preserving hospital capacity for people who are acutely unwell, we continue to ensure that people have increased access to vaccination, COVID-19 testing, and that systems are in place to support people with COVID-19 recovering safely at home.

The system-wide response pathway outlines how and where patients will receive care. It is focused on providing the right care, in the right location, at the right time:

  • COVID-19 Testing Sites will continue to test and provide results to South Australians and the SA Health contact tracing team, and the COVID Response Care Team
  • COVID-19 Contact Tracers will prioritise those cases that are high-risk to the community
  • Mainstream GP Clinics will continue to support patients with non-COVID-19 health needs
  • GP Respiratory Clinics and Respiratory-Ready GP Clinics will continue to support patients with respiratory health needs, including examining, assessing and treating COVID-19 symptoms
  • COVID Response Care Team will oversee and coordinate all positive COVID-19 cases.
  • COVID Care Centres will provide short-stay treatment options for people who need extra health support but don’t need to be hospitalised.

SA Health COVID-19 Health System Response Strategies – November 2021

The statewide system response strategies that underpin our planning continue to provide the basis for our overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic.