South-west physiotherapists out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic say they're willing to help ICU staff fight the virus if required.
Physio Freedom owner Clif Watt this week announced that he would close the doors to his Warrnambool and Hamilton clinics as of 6pm Friday.
He said the decision was made in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus as quickly as possible.
"As a team we decided that it was in the best interest of the community to close our doors. Although we are deemed essential workers, we feel that unfortunately a physiotherapy private practice is a prime place for the spread of germs," he said.
"Obviously we have taken the utmost care to follow all the guidelines set out by the government, but in our view as a community we need to go down into lock down sooner rather than later to get on top of this virus."
Physio Freedom employs six physiotherapists, a myotherapist and six receptionists across its two clinics.
Mr Watt said all reception staff were stood down temporarily.
"We will continue to practice via telehealth and it is likely that three physiotherapists will provide this service," he said.
"The remaining three physiotherapists have been temporarily stood down from their duties."
A physiotherapist for 22 years, Mr Watt said he would help ICU specialist nurses and doctors fight coronavirus if necessary.
"I would be happy to help fight the virus," he said.
"I would let each staff member make their own decision on this but I would imagine they would all be up for the challenge. None of them chose to cease working because they were concerned about getting the virus, it was more around trying to stop the spread throughout the community."
Mr Watt said it was important to "work together to try to get on top of the virus as soon as possible".
"However it is important to note that some physiotherapists, including myself, would require considerable refresher training in the area of ICU and specialist care," he said.
"Whilst we all learn those skills at an undergraduate level, for some of us it may have been 20 or 30 years since we have worked in that area. Naturally there will be many new procedures and policies as well as vast improvement in technology.
"Without a doubt ICU specialist nurses and doctors would be able to bring physios up to speed relatively quickly."
Physiotherapist Sarah Richards said she would do anything to help in the current pandemic.
"I signed up to be a physio to help improve people's quality of life and although this is a very different and serious situation, I'd want to do anything I can to help," she said.
"People aren't often aware that as a physio we are trained in respiratory, cardiac and neurology as well as musculoskeletal care."
South West Healthcare chief executive Craig Fraser said staff members were happily being redeployed to help out in other areas.
"It's heart-warming to see everyone banding together to look after each other in this way," he said.
"As we've slowed down or temporarily closed some of our services in an effort to further protect our patients, consumers, aged care residents and staff from the spread of coronavirus, some of our staff are commendably putting their hands up to help elsewhere."
Mr Fraser said if the need was there, staff were being redeployed to help in other services such as linen and courier.
"Some have helped deliver food or run errands for our mental health services' acute inpatient unit while others have provided administrative support for our executive team, our health and well-being team, and our infection prevention team's influenza vaccination program," he said.
"Staff offering to participate in our redeployment program are happy to be doing so. We really do have a great workforce looking out for each other, and for the people we care for.
"In the future we may call on people in the community with particular healthcare skills to join us but at this very moment we do not require this additional level of support."
There are six confirmed cases of coronavirus in the south-west, four in Warrnmabool and two in Hamilton.
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