NSLHD News April 23 COVID-19 edition

Hornsby hospital covid-19 ready Within a matter of weeks,

Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital has become COVID-19 ready. Rising to the challenge, staff from across the hospital have worked together to rebuild wards, relocate parts of the Emergency Department, move the Intensive Care Unit and triple its capacity to treat patients and train more nursing staff. General Manager Lee Gregory said the hospital was ready for a surge in patients if COVID-19 cases increased, but it was still open to treat patients who needed care. “The hospital is basically split into two: one for COVID-19 and the other for patients who have non- COVID-19 illnesses,” Mr Gregory said. “This means better protection for all patients and staff, but it also means we can continue to treat patients who need urgent care but don’t have COVID-19. “I want the community to understand that our hospital is still here to treat them if they are acutely unwell and need urgent attention. We are still performing emergency and urgent (within 30 days) surgery.” Visitors to the Emergency Department will notice the area has been split into two zones, which staff are calling “hot” and “cold”. Anyone presenting with respiratory symptoms are taken to the hot zone which

NSLHD Chairman Trevor Danos, Chief Executive Deb Willcox and Hornsby General Manager Lee Gregory

is one section of the ED, while other injuries and illnesses are located in another section.

Co-locating physiotherapists from the Fracture Clinic with the Emergency Department’s fast-track has also meant patients are benefiting immediately from specialised treatment, rather than having to wait or return for another appointment. Nurses are being offered further training in critical care and intensive care skills in the event there is a surge in COVID-19 patients needing ICU. Director of Nursing and Midwifery Linda Davidson said the community should not fear coming to hospital. “Hospitals are safe and you will receive the highest standard of care,” she said. “The hospitals are here for those people who are acutely unwell and they are the right place for those who have an acute condition. “It is poignant that this is the International Year of Nurses and Midwives celebrating 200 years of nursing. It was actually Florence Nightingale who really brought in infection control, the importance of washing hands and reducing infections.”

Physical changes have also been made to the ED with new negative pressure rooms built in the Psychiatric Emergency Care Unit. This means if a patient is suspected with COVID-19 in ED, they can be immediately placed in isolation with no risk to other patients in the department. In preparing for a worst- case scenario if COVID-19 cases surge, the hospital has also made plans to turn the outpatients building into a second ED to treat people with minor illnesses. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the hospital is using the opportunity to explore new models of care and practices which may lead to more permanent changes. Children are now spending less time waiting in ED under new arrangements, with patients being taken directly to paediatrics. This means less exposure in ED, a more child-friendly environment and dedicated paediatric staff.

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