ASX-listed Cromwell Property Group has announced a short-term lease agreement with the South Australian government to use its Wakefield Private Hospital as an isolation centre to treat coronavirus victims.
Coronavirus cases in Australia have increased to more than 1,600 over recent weeks, doubling every three to five days.
The result of the outbreak on Australian shores has see a raft of economic stimulus packages and strict new measures including the escalation on social restrictions to limit the spread of the virus.
Across the country there has been a reported shortfall in testing equipment, which has forced authorities to limit the number of tests even as some health experts call for mass testing in order to “flatten the curve” of infection.
Hospital emergency department services and “fever clinics” now risk being underprepared and unable to cope with a rapid increase in demand.
“We are working closely with the South Australian government to ensure we can support the local community during this challenging time,” Cromwell head of property Bobby Binning said.
“Reopening Wakefield Hospital will assist in providing local medical services with a greater capacity to treat people suffering from COVID-19.”
Across Australia there are currently upwards of 700 public hospitals with a total of 62,000 beds and 100 intensive care units with close to 1,500 beds, while the private sectors 630 hospitals have 33,100 beds, including 51 ICUs with 538 beds.
On average, public hospitals in Australia operate at 80 per cent capacity, stretching to 100 per cent during the winter flu season.
Last year, more than 3,700 flu patients were admitted, with 250 cases requiring intensive care.
“Cromwell recognises its responsibility to help ‘flatten the curve’ with regards to the spread of COVID-19, as it continues to have an unprecedented impact globally,” Binning said.
The 15,500sq m Wakefield Hospital, which occupies an entire 8,300sq m block, was purchased by Cromwell for $50 million in late 2017.
It has 130 beds and a medical centre together with 16 specialist medical subtenants.