NSLHD News January 31 2022

Staff from the COVID-19 testing clinic at RNSH

festive season sees nslhd testing clinics ramp up Christmas and New Year

to the occasion,” she said. “Everyone worked extra hours just to get through the line, and that was after we had to tell people they couldn’t join the queue even though the clinic was still open – we just couldn’t get to everyone. “We also had to cater for vulnerable people in the community who couldn’t get to a clinic for a test – which ramped up a lot, especially with nursing homes and disability homes.” Karen joined the COVID-19 response team in July 2020 from her role as a nurse unit manager in the emergency department at Royal North Shore Hospital. “It has been so different from what I normally do in ED,” she said. “The biggest challenge is managing the fluctuating staff needs and levels

depending on the demand and needs of the community” The introduction of rapid antigen tests (RAT) earlier this year has taken some of the pressure off staff with a triage screening model of care now in place. “We can now screen patients according to NSW Health guidelines and decide what particular test would be most appropriate for them – whether that be a PCR or RAT,” Karen said. While the last few months haven’t been easy, Karen said it was a collective effort to come out the other side stronger. “We have such amazing staff – the administration staff, the cleaners and nurses,” she said. “It has made me really proud to be a part of such a wonderfully diverse and dedicated team.”

saw huge queues, extensive waiting times and extended clinic hours for our staff at COVID-19 swabbing clinics across the district. From November to December last year the number of people coming forward for PCR tests more than tripled. Almost 78,000 tests were undertaken across the five Northern Sydney Local Health District testing clinics during December, compared to just over 23,200 the month before. Workforce COVID-19 Response Team Nurse Manager Karen Steenbergen said it was an incredibly busy time for staff trying to swab as many people as possible – with staff at Royal North Shore even swabbing until midnight one night. “Staff were shaken but not stirred – they really pulled together and absolutely rose

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