A "hospital inside a hospital" is being built at Narromine to take COVID-19 patients who aren't in need of high-level care at Dubbo.
Chief executive of the Western NSW Local Health District Scott McLachlan has confirmed a purpose-built inpatient facility capable of accommodating 23 people infected with the virus is being established at Narromine Hospital.
It will support Dubbo Hospital in the fight against the highly-infectious Delta strain.
Mr McLachlan said work was well underway on the facility which would be ready for commissioning as early as next week despite it not being needed immediately.
"Our plans include remodelling to virtually create a 'hospital inside a hospital', so that if we need to accommodate COVID-19 patients there, they are cared for completely separately from other patients," Mr McLachlan said.
"The emergency department will continue to operate as usual for local residents but it will be quarantined from the COVID-19 service where we'll have the capacity to care for up to 23 people.
"Those might be people who have been in Dubbo base but aren't yet ready to go home or people from northern communities who might benefit from being closer to Dubbo.
"It can also accommodate people who have COVID-19 but need to be cared for in hospital for other reasons such as pre-existing health conditions."
Mr McLachlan said the new facility would operate independently with "separate staff including doctors and nurses, pharmacy, imaging and back of house services such as linen and waste management".
"This will help ensure the safety of patients, staff and the community, while making sure people with COVID-19 are getting the care they need either in Narromine, or for the very ill patients, in Dubbo base," he said.
The chief executive said the district had plans in place for more than a year to respond to an escalation of COVID-19 cases in the region.
"We're extremely fortunate to have three base hospitals at Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo which have the ability to provide higher-level care to very sick patients," Mr McLachlan said.
"There is also a role for our smaller services to play in taking care of people with COVID-19 who aren't in need of higher-level services.
"Our plans have always included an escalated effort in smaller facilities to take on that role."
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