NOEL Orval walked away from a likely seven-hour wait in emergency in a bid to help hospital staff help Ballarat's sickest people.
His experience has been one of many before Grampians Health issued its second code yellow cry for help in Ballarat Base Hospital emergency department within three months.
He has underlying heart conditions, let go a little in pandemic conditions, and sought an ambulance when influenza exacerbated his health last month.
Mr Orval said he had every admiration for the city's under-resourced frontline healthcare workers and his fear was that if time was of the essence in the emergency department, it would only be time before someone's critical needs would fall short.
"Nurses and others were not walking, but jogging, to help people and I thought 'maybe I'm not bad, in order for others to get treatment'," Mr Orval said.
"As I was leaving and came out of emergency doors on Mair Street, there were at least 30 people waiting for treatment, who could not fit inside. I have every admiration for healthcare staff...But you've got to expect this to get worse."
IN OTHER NEWS
Grampians Health Ballarat ended its code yellow status by Monday evening but continued to urge people to avoid the emergency department unless they have a serious injury or potentially life-threatening illness. The health service reported grappling with meeting a spike in emergency care and patients isolating with respiratory illness.
Deakin University epidemiology lead Catherine Bennett told The Courier increased Victorian hospitalisations and COVID-19 related deaths from mid-May were likely the early toll of new Omicron sub-variants. The new variants, known as BA.4 and BA.5, were more infectious in the lungs.
The code yellow came on the eve of Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas being sworn in as Victoria's new health minister.
A Victorian government spokesperson from the health minister's office said the code yellow call was only temporary to allow Ballarat Base Hospital staff to focus on the most critical urgent care with minimum delay.
"Our healthcare system has been under an unprecedented amount of pressure due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic but we're investing billions to get it back on track as quickly as possible," the spokesperson said, pointing to the state's $12 billion pandemic repair plan on the healthcare system.
Ballarat recorded 115 new COVID-19 cases on Monday with 820 known active cases in the city. There were 459 COVID-19 cases in Victorian hospitals on Monday morning including 18 people with the virus in intensive care units.
Opposition state health spokesperson Georgie Crozier and Ripon MP Louise Staley said Victorians needed more confidence in the healthcare system.
This also comes a week after Albury Wodonga's hospital flagged lengthy delays and visitor restrictions to care for critical patients.
Leading epidemiologist Catherine Bennett said this pressure status was a timely reminder for people to get their COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations up-to-date and to wear masks indoors as ways to best keep away from needing the hospital.
"All these things matter a bit more now," Professor Bennett said. "...Any push-back does increase a person certainly has in contracting the virus."
Grampians Health reiterated non-emergency care options as first point of call: Check in with your general practitioner; Nurse on Call (1300 60 60 24); visit an after-hours medical clinic; talk to a pharmacist.
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