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    CUSTOM BUILD: From left, The Oscar Group’s Daniel, Anthony and Matthew Op de Coul inspect a shower block the business is making for Wimmera Health Care Group. The Oscar Group is looking at several ways to provide services and infrastructure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Horsham business evolving to meet healthcare needs | COVID-19


An innovative Wimmera family business is helping combat the coronavirus pandemic by providing hospitals with vital infrastructure to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The Oscar Group delivered two purpose-built toilet and shower blocks to Wimmera Base Hospital in Horsham last week and is developing plans to build clinical infrastructure on a wider scale.

Company director Daniel Op de Coul said The Oscar Group was in discussions with a European company to build surgical and CT scanner buildings for Australian hospitals.

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“The company hires out temporary buildings to hospitals across Australia and overseas,” he said. 

“The buildings are manufactured in Italy and brought over to Australia in shipping containers. 

“Obviously with everything going on in Italy, they can’t get them out, and anything made in Italy can be used there.

“We reached out to the company and they were already thinking of looking for a local Australian manufacturer.”

Mr Op de Coul said the project was ‘in the early stages of development’.

“It’s a bit different to what we’ve done before, we’ve mostly worked in the tourism and accessible-housing space,” he said.

“The CT scanner building is fairly simple, except the walls need to be lined with lead, but the surgical buildings are quite technical. 

“We are working on some proposals for Queensland hospitals at the moment.”

Mr Op de Coul said he was talking to healthcare providers across the country about ways their business could help ease pressures resulting from the pandemic.

He said The Oscar Group staff were pleased to be able to help at a local level.

“We made the shower units specifically for the Horsham hospital, so doctors and nurses can shower before and after their shifts,” he said.

“We designed, built and delivered the first one in 10 days, which we were pretty happy with.” 

The Oscar Group designs, manufactures, sells and services a range of products under its Oscar Furniture, Oscar Building, Oscar Commercial, Country Care Horsham, Lanfranco Furniture and Trop-Pods brands.

Safety measures

Mr Op de Coul said the business, which employs about 100 staff, had adopted a range of safety measures to protect staff and clients, including introducing split shifts in its manufacturing department. 

“Some staff can work from home, but on the manufacturing side of things, obviously that’s not practical,” he said.

“We have been operating in split shifts to keep staff separate. 

“The first shift operates from 5am to noon and then they sanitise the workshop and clean everything before the second shift arrives. 

“The second shift works through to 8pm and there is no crossover.

“We are doing what we can to minimise the risk of people getting sick.”

Mr Op de Coul said Country Care Horsham, which provides healthcare and rehabilitation equipment to the general public and healthcare facilities, had also adopted extra precautions.

New measures include a checklist prior to visits, to ensure clients have not been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms, and gloves and masks for staff visiting homes.

“We are being more flexible in the way we do things, such as doing equipment trials outside if we need to,” Mr Op de Coul said.

Surgical gowns

He said The Oscar Group had also approached the Department of Health and Human Services about the possibility of manufacturing surgical gowns in Horsham.

Surgical gowns and masks are in high demand in the fight against COVID-19.

Mr Op de Coul said his company wanted to produce high-level gowns, which were completely waterproof and had antimicrobial coating. 

“They are machine washable and reusable,” he said.

“The fabric is welded together rather than sewn. There are not that many machines in the country that can make the gowns and we happen to have one of them.

“We are waiting to hear back from the department, but hopefully that turns into something.

“We’d like to help if we can.”

The entire April 8, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!