ST John of God Bendigo Hospital is gearing up to help the health care system respond to an expected surge in demand associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
The federal government today announced it would offer agreements to all 657 of Australia's private and not-for-profit hospitals "to ensure their viability, in return for maintenance and capacity during the COVID-19 response".
State and territory governments were also making private hospital COVID-19 agreements.
Federal health minister Greg Hunt, Australian Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth, and Australian Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan said partnering with the private hospital sector would ensure the availability of more than 30,000 hospital beds and 105,000 workers.
Hospital services, Category 1 elective surgery, expansion of ICU capacity, and accommodation for quarantine and isolation cases were among the supports private hospitals would provide.
St John of God Bendigo Hospital chief executive Michelle Stares said St John of God Health Care had been working closely with the public sector to determine its role.
The Bendigo hospital was also in "constant liaison" with the state government about how it could deliver much-needed hospital services to Bendigo and surrounds during the crisis.
"The role of private hospital providers like us will be significant in order to meet the upcoming need in the community," Ms Stares said.
"The recent decision by federal and state governments to ensure the viability of the private sector as we transition our health care model recognises the expertise and resources in the private system, and the need for strong integration and partnership between the public and private sector."
She said St John of God Bendigo Hospital would advise its doctors, patients and the community of any changes to its services as soon as possible.
For the meantime, most of its services continued. Surgeries other than urgent and emergency procedures were the exception.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation said the private sector hospital partnership was a significant step in ensuring a united and coordinated response in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
"To combat COVID-19 and protect the health and well-being of all Australians we need to use all resources available," ANMF federal secretary Annie Butler said.
We have removed our paywall from our stories about the coronavirus. This is a rapidly changing situation and we want to make sure our readers are as informed as possible. If you would like to support our journalists you can subscribe here.