Global webinars provide invaluable learnings through pandemic

During the pandemic, our surgeons have connected with colleagues interstate and around the world to share information, experiences and learnings.

This week Medical Lead for Surgery, Dr Peter Subramaniam, hosted the fourth CALHN Global Webinar: “Responding to the second wave – operating with COVID-19 in Melbourne.”

Panellists included clinical leaders from major metropolitan hospitals across Melbourne; the sites which are sharing the load of COVID-19 patients during Victoria’s outbreak.

Surgical services in Victoria have been significantly affected by the second wave of COVID-19.

One panellist, Western Health Acting Director of Surgery, Dr Merron Pitcher, had just operated on a COVID patient and had been on call for 24 hours.

The teams in Victoria’s major metropolitan hospitals have had to re-engage with strategies – many devised in the first wave of the pandemic – to continue with the provision of essential surgery.

This time around, there are greater numbers of infected patients, greater number of admissions to wards and ICU and a greater number of COVID related deaths. The number of health care worker infections are sobering.

The impact on surgeons, proceduralists, trainees and junior doctors – personally and professionally – is obvious. However, essential surgery – category 1 and emergency – continues to be offered in challenging circumstances.

The panel of frontline surgeons were able to provide some important learnings that SA and elsewhere could leverage on in the event of a second wave.

The webinar was hosted by CALHN Medical Lead for Surgery, Dr Peter Subramaniam, with panellists:

  • Dr Merron Pitcher, FRACS: Acting Director of Surgery, Western Health
  • Alfred Deakin Professor David Watters, FRACS: Professor of Surgery with Deakin University and Barwon Health, Chair, Victorian Perioperative Consultative Council
  • Associate Professor Benjamin Thomson, FRACS: Hepatobiliary & Upper Gastrointestinal, Royal Melbourne Hospital
  • Dr Wanda Stelmach FRACS: Clinical Program Director of Surgery, Western Health