Speaker: Alison Hunt-Sturman, Group Manager, WHS, Mercy Health Australia
Managing the healthcare challenge of COVID-19
Alison Hunt-Sturman took us through the full and detailed journey of how her team faced the challenges of COVID-19 during 2020. During the discussion afterwards, Alison suggested that perhaps she should have issued a trigger warning before her presentation, because it certainly brought back many memories for those present!
We could certainly identify with their experience that began with a naive thought that the situation would be short-lived and that their existing systems were able to keep everything under control. However, as the full impact began to unfold, it was clear that Alison's early warnings, which had been considered overdramatic by some at the time, were justified. As Alison outlined the many developments in the pandemic and the accompanying body of knowledge, it was quite starling to realise how much changed just in the short period between March and May.
One of the stand-outs for me was Alison's discussion about the challenge of boosting the workforce. There was not only the obvious need to replace clinical staff on furlough, but they needed to boost staff in other areas as well. One example was in the IT department to handle all the technological changes. Another big issue was in aged care, where the restriction on family members visiting had a huge impact, because these carers make such a big contribution to the daily workload.
While the current experience is looking more and more like a replay of 2020, the positive side is that practices that were developed last year, and are in a continual state of review, are now putting Alison and her team in good stead for dealing with it.
Alison's presentation complements the talk by Christina Rennick from St Vincents Hospital earlier this year, Hospital Safety during the Pandemic, which you can access here (log in first)
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