Get the latest news from across Northern Sydney Local Health District.
NORTHERN SYDNEY LOCAL HEALTH DISTRICT NSLHD
Special Covid-19 edition
Covid-19 care teams Dedicated COVID-19 Care teams have been deployed to work across Royal North Shore, Ryde, Hornsby and Mona Vale hospitals to support staff.
Read more on Page 5
changes to visiting patients Page 3
thank you nsw pathology: COvid-19 testing Page 5
Leaders in healthcare, partners in wellbeing
Message FROM the acting Chief executive Dr Tamsin Waterhouse
message FROM the Chief executive Deb Willcox
The health, safety and wellbeing of our patients and our community remains of paramount importance during these challenging times as we respond to the Coronavirus (COVID-19). As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 across NSW continues to increase, there is a need for our health services to work with the community to slow the spread of the virus. I understand this is an incredibly difficult and anxious time for many families, but I would like to reassure the community that Northern Sydney Local Heath District is working with NSW Health and all state and federal government agencies to ensure it is prepared to respond to the virus. Since the COVID-19 outbreak in January 2020, we have been meeting daily to ensure our hospitals and services are prepared and planning for the coming months. A team of clinical advisors are meeting with the District Executive daily and informing our decisions. Together we are working on our district-wide preparedness, with special focus on emergency care, respiratory medicine, infectious diseases, and critical care. We are so extremely fortunate to have such high calibre clinical staff, who are true leaders in their disciplines and always have our patients and staff at the centre of their advice. We are also making some changes to elective surgery and our private hospitals are a welcome partner in helping ensure our patients receive timely access to surgical procedures. A dedicated district team is undertaking planning requirements for COVID-19 including planning for additional beds, equipment and staff in the likelihood they will be required. It is also likely we going
to need to be more innovative and agile in our workforce to ensure we have the right people with the right skills in all parts of our services when we need them the most. While we are working tirelessly to ensure the health and wellbeing of our patients and staff, we also need the support of the community to be vigilant in order to protect families, especially the vulnerable. Already, we have seen such a positive response from the community by supporting our restrictions on visitors to hospital. I cannot stress the importance of also staying at home if you are unwell, as well as the need to keep up hand washing and hygiene. All the advice from infectious disease experts is the best way to protect you and your loved ones from the virus, is those simple measures. I understand as a society we are being asked to make significant changes to how we live, and because the local effect of this virus is not fully unknown, this creates anxiety. To reduce anxiety, it is important to seek information only from trusted sources, such as www.health.nsw.gov.au. It has never been more important as a community to band together and look after each other. Assist others in their time of need, protect the elderly and vulnerable neighbours and follow the advice of the Government and health authorities. Each of us has a role to play in reducing the spread of Coronavirus and keeping our loved ones safe.
Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District
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PATIENT visitor changes across nslhd All hospitals across the
Local Health District is implementing a number of measures to ensure the wellbeing of patients, staff and the community during the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation. Hospitals are facing unprecedented demand due to a large number of people requesting testing for COVID-19, at the same time reconfiguring services so we can be prepared for an expected increase in patients needing intensive care. In order to meet the demand, the district has set up COVID-19 clinics at each of the hospitals to streamline testing, and ensure Emergency Departments are kept for those patients who are critically ill. As part of the district’s response, an executive level incident management team has been set up and meets daily to ensure hospitals and services are appropriately resourced. district are asking patients to limit visitors to one per patient. This change is for the safety and wellbeing of patients, staff and the community during this time to slow the transmission of COVID-19. Each patient will need to nominate one person, such as their next of kin, who will be able to visit them during their stay, with other family and friends encouraged to use technology to check in with their loved ones. There will be exceptions for patients with children, children who are patients or those who are very unwell and receiving palliative care. As well as visitor limitations, the attendance of volunteers and consumer representatives onsite across all NSLHD hospitals and services will need to be
on a daily basis providing up to date clinical advice to guide our staff through these difficult times. NSLHD Chief Executive Deb Willcox said hospitals were reviewing their pandemic plans and planning was underway to increase the capacity of intensive care units. “Colleagues across intensive care, medicine, surgery, outpatients, emergency and other large departments are working together to prepare for the predicted increased demand,” she said. “Our staff have been working incredibly hard and responded positively to ensure our health services can respond to COVID-19.” COVID-19 Care teams have been deployed to support frontline staff in hospitals and provide them with information, education and ensure their wellbeing is temporarily postponed. The district will reassess all changes and advise when the hospitals can return to their normal procedures. NSLHD Chief Executive Deb Willcox said: “As the number of confirmed cases across NSW continues to increase, there is a need for us to focus on keeping the number of individuals moving through our hospitals to a minimum.
looked after during this difficult time. “We have put in place arrangements to ensure the rapid assessment and testing of staff for COVID-19. “We are also implementing a process to ask every staff member at the beginning of each shift whether they have respiratory symptoms or history of fever, and if so, to ensure staff who have symptoms are assessed for COVID-19 and self-isolate until COVID-19 is excluded,’” Ms Willcox said. “This is to ensure the safety our staff and patients, as well as ensuring we have a workforce that is healthy and able to care for our community over the coming months. “I want to assure the community Northern Sydney Local Health District is doing all that it can to safeguard our patients and be prepared for the anticipated increased demand on our services.” “We know how important visitors are for the wellbeing of our patients, however to ensure the safety of our patients and staff, we need to limited the number of visitors coming to our hospitals and services. “I appreciate this is a significant change but equally know that our patients and community will understand why we need their help at this time.”
NSLHD RESPONSE AND PREPAREDNESS TO COVID-19 Northern Sydney Importantly, senior clinicians from across our district are
dr hudson on covid-19: information and reassurance Infectious diseases and
clinical microbiology expert Dr Bernie Hudson took part in a short COVID-19 video to provide some important information and reassurance to district staff and the community. Dr Hudson has 30 years’ experience as a doctor in the area of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology at Royal North Shore Hospital and is currently responsible for the infectious disease service for the whole of Northern Sydney Local Health District. The video aims to provide accurate information at a time when there is a great deal of misinformation and concern in the community. Bernie said some people are scared because this virus is an unknown quantity. And obviously with the unknown people think of all sorts of different things “The reality is we just need to do all the same things that we normally do. That’s good hand hygiene, good cough etiquette, staying away from work if you’re sick and also use personal protective equipment when appropriate,” Dr Hudson said. “We also have social distancing which means separating yourself from other people by about two metres, because droplets can be spread with the virus in them when people cough and sneeze. But the droplets only travel about a metre.” Dr Hudson re-emphasised the importance of practicing good hand hygiene.
Infectious diseases and clinical microbiology expert Dr Bernie Hudson
“Hand washing is extremely important because even though this virus is spread by the respiratory method with people coughing and sneezing, we get the virus on our hands and we get rid of the virus from our hands by just washing with soap and water,” he said. “Ideally what you do with visibly soiled hands is you’ll wash for 20 seconds with soap and water. If they’re not visibly soiled, alcohol hand rub alone will be enough to get rid of the virus.” Understandably, health care workers are also worried about catching or transmitting COVID-19. “Health care workers for decades now have been gearing up using personal protective measures, good hand hygiene, etc. These measures work just as well for influenza and measles and a whole variety of things
and they will work well for this condition,” Dr Hudson said. “If you do all those things properly, your risk of getting this infection at work is virtually zero. “People know that it’s very easy to catch influenza. Well this virus is almost the same maybe a little bit more infectious than influenza, but it’s the same measures that we use to protect ourselves against influenza infection as we do for this particular virus. “So even though this is a new virus you just have to remember, that the things that we’ve done before are the things that we need to do now and they’ll work now just like they’ve worked for us before.” Staff can view the Dr Bernie Hudson video on the intranet.
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SHOUTOUT TO RNSH MICROBIOLOGY DEPARTMENT The staff in Royal North
Shore Hospital’s Microbiology Department have been working around the clock to get COVID-19 results to patients as quickly as possible. NSW Health has reported there has been over 56,000 tests carried out in NSW, with health officials stressing the importance to keep testing for those with symptoms who are at high risk of the disease so results can be turned around faster. Thank you to the microbiology team for everything you are doing to help contain and slow the transmission of COVID-19 in the community.
RNSH Microbiology Department
Covid-19 Care team working across the district
NSLHD COVID-19 Care team
As part of NSLHD’s response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, dedicated COVID-19 Care teams have been deployed to work across Royal North Shore, Hornsby, Ryde and Mona Vale hospitals to support staff. The teams will offer workforce support and advice to all staff and managers, as well as check in on staff members’ wellbeing. The teams will also be able to help source relevant information for staff, feedback any concerns to the district executive and follow up on any questions they can’t immediately answer. Director Workforce and Culture Paula
Williscroft said: “We have a wonderful 10,000-strong team of experienced, caring and professional health workers. “I am very proud of our staff who remain absolutely focused on the delivery of health care to our patients and community during the COVID-19 situation. “The COVID-19 Care teams are a priority for the Chief Executive and NSLHD Executive Team so that we can not only support our staff to continue their critical work but hear and respond to their concerns. “We’ll be onsite in pink vests so feel free to come and ask questions, we’re here for you.”
COVID-19 testing and welfare helpline
Thank you to our covid-19 testing helpline A dedicated COVID-19 helpline team is working
positive, providing advice and checking in with them throughout their 14 days of self-isolation. Acting Director of Nursing and Midwifery Jenny Neilsen said the helpline staff are working tirelessly to give people their results, provide information and offer support. “I can’t thank the staff enough for their efforts in keeping people informed, assisting with the many questions
people have and checking up on those who have tested positive,” she said. “Due to the high number of tests being undertaken at our hospitals, there can be delays in getting results back to those who have been tested. “For those people awaiting test results, we appreciate your patience at this time and thank you for self-isolating until you receive your results.”
hard to manage test results from our hospitals across the district. The team keeps in touch with people who are waiting for their test results, providing up-to-date advice and information, and then informs them of their results once they have been received. A welfare team follows up with people who have tested
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NSLHD SOCIAl media during covid-19 situation NSLHD continues to share advice, updates and key information regarding the evolving COVID-19 situation across its Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about the COVID-19 outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried. Social media allows the district to reach staff and communities local to our hospitals and provide them with practical steps to prepare plans, look after their health and wellbeing, and hopefully provide some reassurance. It is important that people receive accurate information from NSW Health and it is encouraging to see that many of our hospital communities are already engaging with our social media accounts, with Royal North Shore Hospital now having 10,000 followers. Altogether our five Facebook pages have almost 25,000 followers, which have posted over 50 updates since early- March reaching 761,500 people.
RNSH staff thank the 10,000 Facebook followers who are keeping up-to-date with accurate COVID-19 information
Thank you to the community for engaging and sharing the information we are providing from expert trusted sources. We also thank you for the support and encouragement you are providing our staff who follow our pages. Stay up-to-date with NSLHD on Facebook • facebook.com/ nthsydhealth/
• facebook.com/ RydeHospital/ • facebook.com/
NSLHD on Twitter • twitter.com/NthSydHealth
how the community can help stop the spread of covid-19 Social Distancing
home delivery and take-away options • Stop shaking hands, hugging or kissing • Ensure testing for those who need it • Stay home if you are sick
Social distancing means we reduce the number of close physical and social contacts we have with one another. The spread of a pandemic through the community can be slowed when social distancing actions are combined with good personal hygiene measures. This helps protect the most vulnerable members of the community and reduces the impact of the pandemic on essential, life-saving health services. Simple steps for social distancing to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19: • Attempt to keep a distance of 1.5 metres between yourself and others where possible • Avoid crowds and small gatherings in enclosed places if possible • Avoid visiting vulnerable people, such as those in aged care facilities, infants or people with compromised immune systems • Visit shops sparingly, buy food online, consider
Current NSW Health advice is to only get tested for COVID-19 if you have a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath and either been overseas in the past 14 days or been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. Only people who meet this criteria will be tested and considering this advice people can save themselves an unnecessary trip to a testing centre. Access up-to-date information Visit NSW Health for the latest updates: www. health.nsw.gov.au. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, call your GP or Healthdirect on 1800 022 222. If you have any further questions, you can call the National Coronavirus Health Information line on 1800 020 080.
covid–19: Identifying the symptoms
COVID-19 Symptoms range frommild to severe
Cold Gradual onset of symptoms
Flu Abrupt onset of symptoms
Shortness of Breath
Aches & Pains
Runny or Stuffy Nose
Sometimes, especially for children
Adapted frommaterial produced by WHO, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Together we can help stop the spread and stay healthy. For more information about Coronavirus (COVID-19) visit health.gov.auPage 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8
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