NSLHD News September 25

message FROM the Chief executive Deb Willcox

It almost seems hard to remember a time before COVID-19 and I know for many of us it has become very much part of our routine daily personal and working lives. I would like to thank everyone for maintaining the important safety measures in place to contain the virus and not becoming complacent and for encouraging people to get tested. Thanks to all those involved in helping with temperature checks, working in the testing centres and the laboratories, contact tracing and looking after the small number patients with the virus in our care. I know myself how difficult it can be at times to maintain social distancing with colleagues at work. To help us in these ever changing times the Clinical Excellence Commission have produced some guidelines to provide some infection prevention and control advice for healthcare workers when working in a shared workspace. You can find the guidelines on the district intranet homepage in the infectious diseases for clinician’s portal. COVID-19 testing at RNSH is set to be improved greatly with the arrival of a new temporary demountable to be placed in the car parking area directly in front of the Douglas Building. The new clinic space will comprise of eight dedicated rooms for testing patients with separate entry and exit points and waiting areas, it will be fully covered for those waiting to be swabbed and of course wheel chair accessible. I appreciate the difficulties associated with the former location on level 6 of the Douglas Building. I am grateful for everyone’s patience while we arranged a more suitable solution for ongoing testing at RNSH. The new temporary building is expected to arrive in the next few weeks. Our district has the highest proportion of residents aged 80 years or older in NSW as well as the largest number of residential aged care places than any LHD. These are some of our most vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic and we know when the virus gets into an aged care facility it has devastating effects. Therefore the district has established a Residential Aged Care Facility (RACF) Strike Force Response Group able to provide a 24/7 immediate and

comprehensive response to a COVID-19 outbreak in an aged care facility. This response includes mobilisation of clinicians from infection prevention and control, infectious diseases, public health unit, RACF aged care outreach teams, allied health and GPs to provide support to aged care facilities to contain and effectively manage a COVID-19 outbreak. The Strike Force response has also included engagement and liaison with Northern Sydney Primary Health Network (PHN), NSW ambulance and local GPs. In addition to developing a response to potential outbreaks, the district has been engaging and is working with aged care facilities to develop a comprehensive COVID-19 prevention plan. This includes providing infection prevention and control and PPE training and education, regular webinars and teleconferences, escalation pathways and outreach teams. Our response is being well received by the aged care facilities who are appreciative of the engagement, support and opportunity to work collaboratively with the District to protect the safety and wellbeing of their residents. We hope we will not have to engage the Strike Force, but if we do we are the most prepared we can be to support these vulnerable members of our community. I would like to thank everyone involved in this very important initiative. Finally, the closing date for the Exceptional People Awards nominations has been extended to 5pm on 2 October. The Awards are a great way to acknowledge and celebrate the great work of our staff and volunteers who deliver excellent health and wellbeing outcomes for our patients and consumers, especially given the impact that COVID-19 has had this year. If you would like to submit a nomination, please visit the 2020 Exceptional People Awards webpage for more information.I look forward to sharing in the celebrations and acknowledging our finalists and winners in December. Deb Willcox Chief Executive Northern Sydney Local Health District


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