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Virtual Hospital caring for community

Weeks before patients with COVID-19 began to fill hospital beds, Northern Sydney Local Health District’s Virtual Hospital was caring for hundreds of people in the community as the Omicron outbreak took hold.

Rapidly, the team had thousands of patients under its care, some with severe illness while others were able to self-manage at home.

The rise in cases came at a time when the already exhausted team was looking forward to a break, like many healthcare workers, who had been at the forefront of the Delta outbreak last year.

Acting general manager Jessica Drysdale (who has since taken up a new role) said every day the team of nurses and doctors were making up to 200 welfare calls to patients who were managing COVID-19 in their homes.

We have over 40,000 active cases in the local health district. Some are moderate to severe cases, others are low risk and able to self-manage at home.
Acting general manager Jessica Drysdale

The sheer number of patients it now cares for was unimaginable last year, but the staff at the hospital have been able to scale up their operations and find new ways to care for the rise.

Jessica said an external company assists with some of the welfare checks and a new ambulance pathway has been established, helping people to stay at home rather than come via ambulance to emergency department, if they don’t need to.

“The staff have had to adjust to so many changes. Some of those changes have happened at short notice and over New Year’s Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day,” she said.

“We are really praying we are at the peak and it will taper off.”

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