Returned traveller from India rushed to hospital in Perth


A man has been taken to a Perth intensive care unit after falling ill with COVID-19.

The Western Australian department of health said a man in his 30s who was in hotel quarantine was rushed to Fiona Stanley Hospital on Saturday.

He is a recently returned traveller from India. The man’s condition is said to be stable.

The nation of 1.3 billion is currently battling a huge surge in cases fuelled by a more contagious variant of the virus.

Perth recently underwent a snap lockdown after a man who had been in hotel quarantine later tested positive for the India coronavirus variant.

Western Australia has agreed with the Commonwealth to cut the number of overseas arrivals coming into the state by half following the latest lockdown.

Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales will in contrast welcome more arrivals, including from India.

WA reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. The state is monitoring 22 active cases of COVID-19.

Yesterday, 433 people were assessed for testing at WA Health COVID clinics and 432 were swabbed.

There have been just over one million tests performed in the state.

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Brisbane hospital COVID ward still shut as engineers probe airflow


A ward at Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital remains closed, more than a month after a COVID-positive patient infected three health staff.

Two nurses working on the 5D ward contracted the virus from a man who had returned from India, sparking two separate community clusters that forced greater Brisbane into lockdown just before Easter.

Two virus clusters both emerged in the PA Hospital ward where it cares for COVID patients.

Two virus clusters both emerged in the PA Hospital ward where it cares for COVID patients.Credit:Getty

The patient also unknowingly infected a junior doctor who assessed him for potential admission to the hospital on March 10.

How the staff members became infected remained a mystery to health authorities investigating the breach.

Genomic testing has revealed all three staff were infected by the returned traveller, although the nurses had no direct contact with the patient.

The 24-bed infectious diseases ward, which was closed on March 30 when the PA Hospital was locked down, remains sealed.

A Metro South Health spokeswoman said the hospital was waiting for the outcome of engineering assessments before a decision could be made on when the ward would reopen.

“The closure of Ward 5D, which is a 24-bed ward, has resulted in a need to establish areas within the hospital to treat the patients who would normally be treated in this ward, which does have impacts on the hospital,” she said.

“The engineering report is being conducted by an independent engineering contractor and is expected to be received in the coming week.

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Gold Coast boy dies in hospital after being injured while playing with Sea World toy, family says


The family of a six-year-old Gold Coast boy says he has died in hospital after being allegedly severely injured on Anzac Day by a toy purchased from Sea World.

According to a crowd-funding page, Deklan Babington-MacDonald’s life support was turned off at the weekend, after doctors told his family his injuries were “beyond recovery”.

The boy had allegedly been playing with a toy purchased from Sea World at his Nerang home on Sunday April 25, when his mother found him unresponsive.

According to the fundraising page, the family performed CPR on the boy before he was rushed to the Queensland Children’s Hospital to be treated for critical injuries.

The six-year-old remained on life support from Sunday until Friday, when his life support was turned off by doctors.

According to the page, he died “surrounded by his closest family, extended family and some close friends”.

“They [the family] are reading the beautiful messages of support and love, and appreciate all the kindness and donations,” Deklan’s aunt wrote.

She said a memorial would be organised for Deklan in the near future.

In a statement issued last week, Village Roadshow Theme Parks said it had removed the toy in question from sale.

A spokesperson said it was a “plush-toy walker”, which looks like a penguin wearing a harness, attached to a lead or stick.

Village Roadshow said it would fully cooperate with all investigations into the matter, and was distressed to hear of the accident.

“We need to understand the circumstances around what has occurred,” the statement said.

“As our number one priority is always health and safety, we have removed the toy in question from sale at this time.

“We will also be reaching out to Deklan’s family to offer support.”

According to the spokesperson, while the toy is no longer for sale, a full investigation will need to take place before it is entirely recalled.

The fundraiser for Deklan’s family has so far raised almost $15,000.

Queensland Police said it was not treating the boy’s death as suspicious.

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From Hospital Profits to Gender Gaps, Journalists Are on the Case



 

KHN freelancer Christine Spolar discussed how during the pandemic the nation’s richest hospitals and health systems profited after accepting the lion’s share of the federal health care bailout grant with WESA’s “The Confluence” on Tuesday.

  • Click here to hear Spolar on WESA
  • Read “Despite Covid, Many Wealthy Hospitals Had a Banner Year With Federal Bailout” by Spolar and KHN senior correspondent Jordan Rau.

 


Midwest editor and correspondent Laura Ungar unpacked the gender breakdown of covid vaccinations with NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday” on April 18.

  • Click here to hear Ungar on NPR
  • Read Ungar’s “The Gender Vaccine Gap: More Women Than Men Are Getting Covid Shots“

 

Midwest correspondent Lauren Weber discussed covid cases across the Midwest with “WisBusiness: The Podcast” on April 16.

  • Click here to hear Weber on “WisBusiness: The Podcast“
  • Read Weber’s reporting on covid in the Midwest

This post was previously published on khn.org.

 

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Grieving parents of Aiswarya Aswath start hunger strike outside the hospital where she died



The parents of Aiswarya Aswath, who died while waiting for treatment at Perth Children’s Hospital, have launched a hunger strike outside the hospital.

The parents of a young Perth girl who died while waiting for medical treatment have launched a hunger strike outside the hospital.

Seven-year-old Aiswarya Aswath died at Perth Children’s Hospital on 3 April after she was made to wait two hours to see a doctor.

Her parents began a protest outside the hospital’s emergency department at midnight on Friday, exactly four weeks after they brought their daughter to the building seeking medical treatment.

Aswath and Praseetha Sasidharan have vowed to remain on strike outside the emergency department until the West Australian government commits to establishing a thorough, independent review of the incident.

“We’ve been let down and we’re losing hope in the system. We are still waiting for the initial report from the hospital,” Aswath said on Saturday.

Aswath and Praseetha Sasidharan
SBS News/Aaron Fernandes

The WA Child and Adolescent Health Services (CAHS), which manages the hospital, has launched its own review of the incident to determine what happened.

The review and report were initially expected to be completed in four weeks, led by a team of medical professionals from within the Child and Adolescent Health Service.

But four weeks after Aiswarya’s death, the family still has not been provided a report or a timeline of when to expect it. They also still do not know the cause of their daughter’s death.

“We were really worried. Her condition was deteriorating quickly. That’s why we tried to raise their concern, and they didn’t respond the way we thought staff in an emergency department normally would,” Praseetha said.

 

The parents brought their daughter to the hospital after she developed a fever.

The girl was initially seen by a nurse and allocated a triage score of four, indicating a low priority patient.

Her parents remained in the waiting room, as Aiswarya’s condition rapidly deteriorated. They say they begged hospital staff several times to see a doctor.

They waited more than two hours before a doctor finally saw Aiswarya, by which time she was barely conscious. She reportedly died around 15 minutes later.

“I was very concerned, because her hands were cold and also her eyes were not normal. I was worried. I approached a lot of staff there, but they didn’t think it was an emergency. They just said, ‘the doctor will come and have a look’,” Aswath said.

He said he and his wife started the hunger strike because “we do not want anyone else to face such a tragedy”.

“Aishwarya is not the first child to face this, but we want her to be the last one,” he said.

WA Health Minister Roger Cook has been contacted for comment.

Perth Children’s Hospital chief Aresh Anwar spoke with Aswath and Praseetha on Saturday morning and they are expected to meet with more hospital representatives later in the day.

In a statement to SBS News, Dr Anwar, who is also CEO of the Child and Adolescent Health Service, said support is being provided to the family. 

“Our sympathies and thoughts remain with Aishwarya’s family and friends. We continue to offer any support we can to the family. 

He said an independent review is underway and due to be completed within 28 days. 

“Pivotal to the root cause analysis, is a robust review of all the evidence. This has been, and will continue to be, the critical factor in determining the timeframe for the report.”

Additional reporting by SBS Malayalam.

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Frog hospital sees rise in cancers, prompting calls for more research into neonicotinoid insecticide


Neonicotinoids are known for having catastrophic effects on bees and have been banned overseas. Now, researchers are worried native frogs could be the next victim of the widely used insecticide in Australia.

The water-soluble insecticide is common in pest control and agricultural products, but has been proven to adversely affect some insects’ nervous systems.

The European Union banned its outdoor use in 2018, but the insecticide is still widely used in Australia.

The president of Frog Safe, Deborah Pergolotti, runs a frog hospital in Mission Beach, south of Cairns.

During the past 20 years as a frog carer, Ms Pergolotti said she had witnessed an increase in cancer rates in the amphibians, and that more research was urgently needed on whether insecticides might be playing a role.

“There’ll need to be more public pressure on the [federal] government to get them to start looking at these issues,” Ms Pergolotti said.

Research from the University of Saskatchewan has revealed imidacloprid — a type of neonicotinoid — can cause weight loss in a songbird, while a study published in the journal Science found it also impacted feeding in bees.

But any potential impact on frogs was less known because experiments were limited.

James Cook University Emeritus Professor of Tropical Ecology Ross Alfred said while neonicotinoids were generally thought to be safe for vertebrates, there had been minimal targeted research into the long-term impacts for amphibians. 

“There are some tests that suggest that they can damage DNA at high levels,” Professor Alfred said.

“Anything that damages DNA is a worry, of course.

However to his knowledge, that was the extent of resarch findings so far.

Professor Alfred said habitat modification was one of the biggest threats to frog populations, but the impact of chemicals such as neonicotinoids needed more research. 

A study from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in 2018 found frogs exposed to the insecticide had a slower response time to a predator’s aerial attack — assumed to be a result of effects on perception or cognition of risk.

Meanwhile, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) began a review into neonicotinoids in 2019 to consider new scientific information and ensure safety instructions met contemporary standards. 

The authority said its proposed regulatory decision was expected in mid-2022.

“The APVMA continues to monitor all available evidence and credible scientific reports as they become available, to ensure the continued protection of the health and safety of people, animals and the environment,” it said in a statement. 

Professor Alfred said frogs were an indicator of an aquatic ecosystem’s health, so their importance should not be underestimated.

“They breathe largely through their skin,” he said.

“Their skin is porous. If they get in contact with chemicals, they end up in their bodies.

Frog carer Deborah Pergolotti said the ecosystem in her region remained at risk unless more research was carried out.

“Frog eggs, tadpoles and frogs are an important part of the food chain,” she said. 

“If you remove them from the system, you’ve got cascading effects up the line.”

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IBAC reveals former Victorian hospital CEO misused position to pay relatives


Victoria’s anti-corruption watchdog has found a former CEO of a Victorian regional health service engaged in corrupt conduct and was awarding $1 million contracts to a consultancy while in a relationship with one of its directors.

Operation Meroo was an investigation by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) into allegations against the former CEO, but has not revealed the name of the person.

IBAC found the former CEO also authorised a payment of $74,000 in 2012-2015 to an electrical company owned by their relative for work done in 2004 without proper verification.

The report also revealed the organisation had a culture that discouraged employees from speaking up and its board failed to govern the CEO properly.

“The health service’s board did not act in the best interests of the agency as it failed to scrutinise the former CEO’s expenditure and did not hold the longstanding former CEO to account,” said IBAC Commissioner The Honourable Robert Redlich AM, QC.

It also criticised the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for not taking sufficient action despite red flags regarding the conduct of the former CEO.

In 2015, a regional director raised concerns with the then-CEO and the board president about a potential conflict of interest regarding the CEO’s appointment as president of an organisation that accredited healthcare service providers.

The department told IBAC it decided not to follow through after being advised by the then-board president that the organisation in question had received its own legal advice and was managing the conflict.

IBAC has now made several recommendations to the health service and the DHHS including strengthening board capability and oversight, procurement practices, and conflict of interest management.

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Clinicians critical of new Women’s and Children’s Hospital plan due to bed shortage concerns


Key health staff have refused to endorse plans for the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH) because of concerns over the size and number of rooms available.

The state opposition said that, according to a 560-page draft design document, the new hospital would have 25 fewer overnight beds than the existing WCH.

The Opposition said there would be 313 beds under the plans, compared to 338 in the current hospital, with paediatric overnight beds falling from 199 to 180.

The government has hit back at the claims, saying there will be more “treatment spaces” at the new WCH, and that ongoing consultation could increase that number again.

Nine groups of clinicians — including emergency department and intensive care unit staff — refused to give their ticks of approval to the plan for the new hospital.

Infectious disease experts were “not prepared to agree to the FDB without seeing the final numbers of the rooms [and] agreed size of the rooms”, the Draft Functional Design Brief stated.

“This data is critical to everything we do, and we understand this is available and should be presented to us before seeking an agreement to the final document.”

The paediatric unit was concerned about its area not being expanded at the new hospital.

The existing hospital is set to be replaced with a new one alongside the RAH.(

ABC News: Lincoln Rothall

)

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said the criticisms were concerning, adding that “we don’t have a start date, we don’t have a cost, and now we find out the plan is to build it with 25 less overnight beds”.

“This is a project that not only is dramatically delayed but also a project that doesn’t enjoy support from key clinicians that we expect to work in the hospital,” Mr Malinauskas said.

The Opposition claimed the document was leaked to them, but that was disputed by a state government spokesperson, who said it had gone out for consultation deliberately.

Health Minister Stephen Wade defended the new hospital’s design, saying the number of “treatment spaces” would be higher than at the existing site.

“Three years ago, there were 398 treatment spaces at the WCH,” he said in a statement.

“[The] government has been steadily increasing capacity … and currently there are 441 treatment spaces at the WCH.

Mr Wade said the government had discussed the plans “with more than 690 clinicians and other staff, and 35 consumers during more than 1,000 hours of consultation”. 

Mental health summit ‘wasted opportunity’

The release of the documents came as critics slammed an SA Health meeting, held on Wednesday, to address challenges in the mental health sector.

The meeting at the Adelaide Convention Centre was organised in response to concerns raised by senior mental health expert Professor John Mendoza who, earlier this month, accused the state and federal governments of failing to grasp the potential mental health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Mendoza described the meeting as a “wasted opportunity” to fix the system.

“When a forum called to address a crisis has no agenda or running sheet, no list of participants, no means to connect people not in the room, no decision makers, it’s clear it’s a snow job,” Professor Mendoza tweeted.

John Mendoza
Professor John Mendoza is a former executive director of mental health for the Central Adelaide Local Health Network.(

ABC News: Lincoln Rothall

)

Chair of the SA branch of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Dr Paul Furst, said South Australia’s mental health system was a “national disgrace”.

But the Health Minister said the Government was considering “local initiatives” to manage challenges in the system.

“Adjunct Professor Mendoza has highlighted the way that we could better manage beds across the metropolitan system,” Mr Wade said.

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Brisbane’s Wesley Hospital cyber attack leaves staff struggling to communicate, patient says


“The wi-fi was cut off,” said one woman who was in the Wesley Hospital at Auchenflower in Brisbane’s inner-west when the hacking occurred on Sunday.

“I spent the next two days trying to get onto it but I couldn’t. It was very frustrating.”

The patient, who asked not be identified, said staff confirmed the cyber attack when she asked about the wi-fi.

She said she had seen staff grappling with a range of problems involving communications and patient records, and struggling with tasks as basic as inserting a canula.

“They would normally text people to come and do it [the canula] but they couldn’t so they were having to ring people with a land line,” she said.

“Everything was slowed down. It was a bit chaotic.”

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