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How we are conquering COVID-19

“I haven’t been this popular since Ebola,” Jo said.

The Infection Prevention and Control expert has been one of the go-to people during the pandemic, not just for the district – but also for the state.

Jo’s boots were among the first on the ground at Ryde Hospital, Dorothy Henderson Lodge and Newmarch to help staff respond to the virus.

“For us in infection prevention, one of the biggest and most important things was to give our staff a level of confidence and bring some calmness to what was a pretty crazy environment,” she said.

“A lot of what we were expecting of staff is core business to them; they do it every single day. They know how to don and doff PPE, they know about hand hygiene – we were there to give them that reassurance and calmness, ensuring they know they are safe.”

Meanwhile, Dr Figtree’s phone was also lighting up as she received upwards of 100 calls a day, but the calls she were making were equally as important.

“My kids suddenly thought I had the power to shut down the schools because I made the phone call and three hours later the closure would be on the news,” she said.

It was this rapid decision making in an unknown environment that laid the foundations for the district’s success and provided a blueprint to others, including the decision not to have some COVID positive patients in a brick and mortar hospital.

“We didn’t see the need for patients to come into hospital if they didn’t need medical care where as others had policies of admitting everyone,” Mel said.

“We put them into a system where we checked on them regularly and figured out when they could come out in conjunction with the Public Health Unit.”

Dr Hudson said the work done in our district at Ryde Hospital set the standard.

“The best thing about our response was it was well coordinated and coping with a lot of problems in a very efficient and effective manner,” Bernie said.

“Ryde Hospital was controlled incredibly well and a lot of credit needs to go to the people out there as well as Chief Executive Deb Willcox for her leadership and Jo and Mel, for going out there every day.”

Leadership came from everywhere, with all three agreeing everyone stood up during a time of crisis.

“Leadership has come from everywhere; the Ministry of Health, the Clinical Excellence Commission, from Deb and the Heads of Department – everyone has worked together really well in the space,” Jo said.

But the message was clear – now is the time for everyone to show leadership and do what’s right to prevent a second wave.

We need to be really vigilant to prevent a second wave – we cannot be complacent about it.
Dr Mel Figtree, Microbiology Staff Specialist

“We are prepared as far as intensive care goes, we are prepared as far as laboratory testing goes and we are prepared as far as personal protective equipment goes but we must not forget that primarily it is people’s behaviour that drives these outbreaks,” Bernie said.

“We still need to do all the personal things that have worked well for us - pay attention to updates from our health and government experts, comply with government rules on travel and social distancing, remember to wash our hands, don’t come to work if you are sick and if you are feeling unwell, or you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, get tested.”

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