During the pandemic’s busiest times, the team made about 350 calls a day to patients of all ages and ethnic background across the district, managing their treatment virtually and discussing their symptoms and welfare needs.
Daily meetings to discuss and assess management plans were needed, as well as appropriate responses to changed pandemic guidelines.
Dr Collett’s duties also included working with other NSW local health districts and other State and Federal stakeholders to ensure the service worked most effectively.
“Trying to switch off (from the pandemic) could be tough,” Dr Collett said. “It was about compartmentalising, even though COVID-19 was everywhere. I think that having a multi-disciplinary effort from all involved and good communication across all teams was key to its efficiency.
“Yes, there were some frustrations at times but that is always to be expected, especially during such an unusual situation.”
Beyond COVID-19, the Virtual Hospital is playing an increasingly prominent role the district’s health service, treating a range of patients who don’t require hospital admission, but need care in their homes.
“Keeping more patients out of hospital treated at home – when and where appropriate - is very much the way of the future,” Dr Collett, who expects to remain in his position with the Virtual Hospital until the end of 2022, said.
“In some ways COVID has given us the skills and the drive to accelerate such changes to the way we worked.
“It’s been challenging at times but I’m happy I’ve been part of a team that’s made a difference.”