Sign In
HomeNewsStaff step up to support COVID-19 patients in the community

Staff step up to support COVID-19 patients in the community

Their paths may have never crossed, but radiologist Joanne Duncombe, general surgeon Dr Tamara Preda and emergency physician Dr Liz Swinburn have been working side by side at Northern Sydney Local Health District’s Virtual Hospital over the last three months treating those in the community who are COVID-19 positive.  

Liz is the medical co-director of the Virtual Hospital. She said when positive COVID-19 cases sky rocketed in the community in August more staff were required to help. 

We went from 10 patients to suddenly 500 very rapidly and needed additional staff to care for those in the community who were positive.
Emergency physician Dr Liz Swinburn

“The day-to-day involves ringing COVID-19 positive patients, checking on their welfare, detecting when patients deteriorate or when they need to go to hospital," she said.

“It’s been great to have staff from BreastScreen NSW come on board while they haven’t been able to do their normal jobs.”

When BreastScreen NSW services were paused in August and Joanne was no longer doing any screening, she wanted to do something to help with the COVID-19 response. 

“I got an email from the medical administration – they were looking for volunteers so I put my hand up to come and join the virtual hospital and I’m glad I did,” she said. 

“It has been very interesting and it’s nice to feel like I’ve made a contribution to the response.”

Tamara mostly works in private practice in south west Sydney and at BreastScreen Northside, so when COVID-19 cases ramped up and surgery slowed, she took up the chance to work at the Virtual Hospital. 

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to do some general medicine again,” she said. 

“It’s a good working environment, very well run and setup, very efficient and pleasant people to work with.”

Liz said it’s a real combined team in the Virtual Hospital. 

“We have radiologists, surgeons, medical students, general practitioner, emergency department staff, nurses and doctors, and the students are teaching us how to use the IT,” Liz said.

“It was really busy during the last peak in cases, and we are now waiting to see what happens next with the easing of restrictions.”

What others found interesting…