Canberra Hospital has recorded huge drops in patients during the coronavirus pandemic, as patients avoided the emergency department and stayed out of harm's way.
But as the territory emerges out of lockdown, and case numbers remain steady, people are slowly returning.
At the height of new virus cases in Canberra, as authorities braced for a "tsunami" of COVID-19 patients, there was an almost 40 per cent drop in patients presenting to the hospital's emergency department, new figures reveal.
Canberra Hospital data reveals its emergency department had its lowest number of presentations in the week ending April 4. That week, 1111 people came to the department, compared to 1800 during the corresponding week in 2019.
The number of patients presenting to the emergency department didn't start to decline until the week ending March 22. Meanwhile, the hospital's intensive care unit began to see significant declines in patients in the week ending April 4.
While there have been far fewer patients, staff have been busy adapting to new work practices, patient flows and changed processes, executive director of critical care Lisa Gilmore said.
"I think the staff have done an exceptional job on the front line," she said.
"These are unprecedented times. Like the rest of the community, there has been high levels of uncertainty and anxiety - they've all got their own families and friends to think about, children to home school."
Ms Gilmore attributes much of the drop to a number of factors, notably the lockdown measures which meant fewer car accidents, misadventures and sporting injuries. These factors were apparent in a sharp drop in the number of men in their 20s needing medical care during the lockdown period.
But people were also careful only to come to the emergency department if it was the best option for their care. Ms Gilmore said while other presentation causes had dropped off, there had still been a steady stream of mental health patients.
Those patients have often stayed longer in hospital, and had a higher acuity level than before the pandemic, she said.
The decision to cancel most elective surgery - in anticipation of increasing coronavirus cases - was the main reason for the large drop in intensive care patients, Ms Gilmore said. But fewer accidents was also a factor.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said there were plans in place to slowly expand the number of elective surgeries performed back to normal numbers.
The government is also considering how it can address the backlog of surgeries created during the lockdown.
"I think the arrangements we had in place in having established strong partnerships between our public and private hospital system, give us opportunities to consider how we can address the most urgent needs in our elective surgery waiting lists," she said.