Pro-active planning and the willingness of hospital staff to make the extra effort in ensuring preparedness against coronavirus has helped the Bendigo region be as safe as possible during the global pandemic.
But Bendigo Health's emergency department director Simon Smith said planning for the pandemic has been anything but easy on staff.
"We all knew something was happening a few months ago when we started hearing stories from overseas. It was a matter of how it was going to influence us," Dr Smith said.
"The biggest part has been planning for the expected surge in patients. We made an early decision for the safety of staff and patients to divide our emergency department in two - one for respiratory emergencies and one for business emergency medicine. It may sound simple but it involved a lot of planning.
"The other big part was addressing the concerns of staff. A lot of people work here - doctors, nurses, cleaners, clerical staff - everyone was worried."
Dr Smith said with more than 150 staff in the emergency department each day, addressing staff concerns largely came down to making the hospital environment as safe as possible for staff as well as patients.
"They're worried about being exposed to a virus that can make them sick," he said. "They're worried about rumours going around about a lack of personal protective equipment.
"Bendigo Health has been making a big effort to make sure we have supplies, with committees and task forces set up in the hospital to make sure we have good stock. Then it's about (getting) that message to staff to say 'don't stress, we're onto this, we're going to make sure you stay safe'."
The response from staff in wanting to help plan for the pandemic as well as work on the frontline to help people has impressed Dr Smith.
"Some staff were on leave and stuck up their hand to come and help out," he said. "(They) come back offering to work and have gone above and beyond what's expected of them in doing extra work. Without them the whole planning (phase) would have been difficult.
"They were theoretically putting themselves at risk by doing that but they wanted to be involved and help. It was wonderful to see (and) when you see senior nurses and doctors doing that, it's a visual to junior staff.
"(If) senior staff are happy to be at work and on the frontline it shows it's a safe place to be. We're lucky there is still a community feel about this hospital despite it being bigger. It means we were able to get everyone on board and (plan) quicker than some of the metro hospitals we able to do."
Coupled with the staff response, Dr Smith said there has been a positive community response to how the Bendigo Health has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The goodwill form patients and the general community has been wonderful to see," he said. "Patients are understanding in why they are being treated differently whether it is the gear staff are wearing or visitors not being allowed. I think they get it and know we're doing all we can.
"I think Bendigo Health has been way ahead of other hospitals in how we responded to this. When look at policies (introduced) about visitors and access to the hospital and screening staff for illness, some of those policies have been ahead of perhaps other metropolitan hospitals.
As of Sunday, Greater Bendigo had nine recorded cases of COVID-19. Dr Smith said efforts in protecting against coronavirus could always be better.
"By and large around Bendigo the vast majority of people are doing the right thing and that's how the number of positive cases has been able to be restricted," he said. "We can always be better at it whether it's at the supermarket or going for walk."
While the future of the pandemic was still unclear, Dr Smith said the hospital will remain prepared.
"We plan for the worst," he said. "Initially we were planning for a surge of patients and by people doing the right thing that hasn't panned out to our initial worst case scenarios but it could still happen," he said.
"We have to make sure we can be in the best place we can be if we get vast numbers coming in."