COVID-19 brings welcome challenges to private hospital sector

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Staff at Melbourne’s Wyndham Clinic Private Hospital have stepped well out of their comfort zone this year and they have been delighted about it.

Medical staff from the hospital, which specialises in day surgery and mental health treatment, have been sent into aged care homes across Melbourne to help out as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Wyndham CEO, Peter Bailey, said 2020 had been a tough year for healthcare workers, but that he could not be prouder of his staff.

“We signed up to the national partnership agreement and when that happened we had some pretty open discussions with our staff,” he said.

“When we were called upon, we’ve gone into residential aged care, we have public patients in our hospital, and we’ve also gone into our local area mental health facility to help.

“Our staff have really proven how resilient they are.”

Three staff members – Sue, Nic and John – wrote a letter to Mr Bailey, telling him about their experiences working in an aged care home during the crisis.

“Our deployment has been a mostly pleasant experience after the initial culture shock, as with any other new places we go,” they wrote.

“They provide excellent and adequate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and well thought out donning and gown off stations. Hand sanitiser and PPE are strategically placed all throughout the facility with no restricted access.

“They have sanitation teams (different from cleaning teams) going around disinfecting all high touch surfaces regularly.

“To be honest, with adequate and appropriate PPE and in a non-rushed environment, we felt safe looking after the patients.

“The chances of catching COVID from the community is probably higher without the knowledge of other people’s status, compared to working in a controlled environment with proper high level PPE.”

The trio added contact time with patients was minimal, and they left all their belongings in the car to avoid bringing any potential infections into the care home.

“The hardest part of the day is probably being in full PPE the whole shift, but that’s also the beauty of being protected,” they said.

“At the end of the day, nothing beats the feeling of satisfaction knowing our presence has made a difference to the residents who have been impacted greatly.

“We are happy to stay for the duration of deployment and hope more colleagues will come forward willingly and discover the positive aspects of caring for these elderly. We in turn have gained an invaluable experience from this opportunity.”

Mr Bailey said Victorians were slowly starting to see light at the end of the COVID tunnel, with restrictions easing in regional areas.

“The State Government just confirmed that elective surgery will start again in regional Victoria and hopefully later in September in metro Melbourne,” he said.

“I think this pandemic has thrown into stark relief the things we can change and do better.

“Certainly our mental health facility has been very busy, we’re working under different arrangements and engaging with the public sector.

“Of all the crap we’ve had from COVID, I really hope that healthcare keeps up with all the innovation we’ve come up with during this time. For example, we’ve seen that telehealth really does work and we can offer flexible, tailored help for our patients.

“I’m really proud of our team, they’ve been really positive and they’ve been out there making a difference, and I think we should celebrate that.

“You know, the individuals in our organisation who are out there, doing the work – they’ve gone into some adverse spaces and done so well. I’m very proud and they deserve to be celebrated.”

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