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Background on masks

The initial response in Australia failed to take into account that the COVID virus is an airborne disease. Even without coughing or sneezing, people with the virus breath it out with every breath. Perhaps the initial response didn’t include masks as supplies were not available for the whole community, but now masks can easily be made or bought, and will probably be required for some months.

Masks for pandemics started with “The Great Manchurian Plague” of 1910-11. A Cambridge trained Chinese doctor Wu Lien-Teh introduced the idea. It was dismissed by some doctors – a French Professor Gerald Mesney was vocal in his opposition to masks, but then contracted and died from the airborne disease after visiting affected patients. The argument soon passed. Masks were again used in the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918, but for generations, we have not had a serious airborne disease for which there is no vaccine.


Dr Wu Lien-Teh. Instigator of mask wearing.

There are a huge variety of masks available. In the Manchurian plague and Spanish flu, simple cloth masks achieved the result. Current studies suggest a cloth mask will reduce spread of infection by 75%. Each improvement beyond this is a small increment. Masks protect you from other people, and other people from you. 50% of people with infections will have very few symptoms, so it is critical everyone wears a mask at this stage.

Updated September 27 2021

BallaratOSM can still provide treatment.

Between telemedicine & internet radiology, we can sort out many patients without face to face meetings. We are sending text messages to individual patients with as clear instructions as possible. Some patients require plasters to be removed or stitches to be removed, but MOST of our patients have dissolving stitches. If you are required to attend – don’t bring books, drinks or handbags into our building. Wash you hands as soon as you arrive.

Masks are required at Novar, our medical practice

We require our patients and staff to wear masks. If you don’t have your own, a disposable mask is available. If you have a medical or psychological or some other issue making mask wearing impossible, please telephone our receptionist before attending here. Patients without masks will be asked to return to their cars until the issue is agreeably sorted out. A maximum of one support person per patient should also be adhered to.


Telephone calls and video phone calls are the new reality. We will telephone at the appointment time. We will either need credit card details or bulk bill you depending on your circumstances. We can look at XR’s over the internet. If you don’t have a referral, you will need to speak with our registrar first, who will arrange any details before you speak to the specialist orthopaedic surgeon. We cannot provide surgical care for people outside of the Ballarat & Western District region. Many computers have video cameras built in. If we have your email address, we can use “Zoom” or other programs to do video consultations over the internet.

We are still doing surgery

The advice from the Department of Health in Victoria, July 16 2021, is that all elective surgery will proceed.  This may change!

Where pain or disability is severe, we proceed with surgery.  If the surgeon believes delaying the surgery may damage your long term outcome, we proceed with your surgery.  Truly elective surgery (category 3) might be deferred shortly, essential (category 2) surgery might get moved a few days.

Obviously if you are unwell with something that could be a virus, or you have been exposed, do not come to hospital without specific permission.

We are still seeing some patients in rooms

Recent injuries may be important to be seen on time – plenty of things have a lesser outcome if operations are deferred.

Patients coming for post operative visits probably should still come – sutures may need to be removed, advice to you on how to manage your recovery is important.

New patients with severe pain or disability will be seen if the appointment can’t be done remotely, but please don’t come from red zones, or do “other things on the way”.

If you have any symptoms like a cough, fever etc, we really don’t want you in our consulting rooms, or if at all possible, hospitals.  We will do everything possible to look after you remotely.  If you must be in hospital for your orthopaedic condition – many special restrictions will be in place.  A hospital in Melbourne had 200 staff members furlonged because of breech of these rules.

Our doctors are all vaccinated, and our support teams are getting vaccinated as quickly as possible.

We need you to be vaccinated

COVID is going to be with us for some time to come.  Universal vaccination is the only way out.  The risk of vaccination is lower than the risk of your car trip to be vaccinated !!  Neither risk is big.  Mandatory vaccination for elective surgery is imminent. Current recommendation is that your vaccine injections be at least a week from surgery.

Appointments at Novar, home of BallaratOSM.

You will be required to wear a mask.  Phone prior if you can’t because of medical or psychological reasons.
Do not come if you are sick, phone instead.
If you have a cough, or sneeze, you will be asked to leave unless you are wearing a mask.
Do not bring extraneous items into the building.
Go directly to washing your hands.
Keep your distance from other people.
Be kind to other people – everyone is stressed.

Radiology Providers that we can see imaging from.

Lake Imaging
Sovereign Radiology
Ballarat Base Hospital (try to leave this to the virus sufferers)
Bendigo Radiology (including Stawell & Ararat)
Healthcare (eg Wimmera)