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A letter from Dr Sarah Wesley

As many of you begin to enjoy the benefits of restrictions easing this festive season, the fight isn’t over for our healthcare workers. In fact, we are prepared for a possible increase in admissions across our hospitals.

Dr Sarah Wesley

I’m Dr Sarah Wesley, the Deputy Director of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Royal North Shore Hospital and a Senior Intensive Care Specialist. It has been a challenging few months, but we are confident our teams have prepared, adapted and upskilled to meet any increase in patient numbers.

When the Delta variant arrived in late June, our district responded immediately by increasing our testing clinic capacity, opening crucial vaccination hubs and re-establishing our COVID-19 wards. In a matter of a week or two, we changed our Emergency Department infrastructure to include specialised filters, isolation rooms, and negative pressure abilities while also creating a separate satellite ICU to expand our bed capacity and ensure that other ICU patients could still receive care.

Throughout it all, our hospitals have kept serving the community – no matter what the health challenge has been.

We know that now, more than ever, our local community needs us. And that’s why we need you. The support and generosity of people like you has helped get us through the last two years. We hope that you will choose to support your local hospital and its healthcare staff this Christmas by making a tax-deductible gift here.

With restrictions in place on visitors, our nurses and healthcare staff have stepped up to provide comfort to patients when their relatives are unable. Although our staff are often exposed to end-of-life circumstances and are trained to manage grief, the recent COVID situation has been confronting for even the most seasoned healthcare professionals.

Working with COVID-19 patients is very labour intensive. In addition to patients needing to be isolated and staff needing to gear up in personal protective equipment (PPE), COVID-19 patients also need to be regularly turned to their front for up to 16 hours a day in order to aid with oxygen levels. This process, known as ‘proning’, can take up to 11 staff members to carry out safely, and multiple turns need to occur throughout the day for each patient.

Throughout the last two years the everyday healthcare needs of our community have continued – accidents have still happened, cancers have been treated, the elderly have needed care and babies have been born.

Healthcare staff

Continuing to provide high-quality patient care despite the challenges of COVID-19 has remained our highest priority. Read these patient stories from across the district to see how grateful some of our patients are for the care they received.

What many people don’t consider, is the impact that COVID-19 has had on the rest of the healthcare system – both positively and negatively. We know that living with chronic diseases and mental illness has always been tough, but COVID-19 has made it harder. Many services and activities that patients rely on were disrupted or not available in their traditional forms.

Many of our healthcare workers adapted quickly, finding new ways to meet their patientsʼ needs through Telehealth and Virtual Hospital. Some of this new infrastructure and change to our services were supported by you, our NORTH Foundation donor community.

I’m proud to say that my colleagues across the district are doing everything possible to sustain daily operations and provide quality healthcare to everyone in our community.

On behalf of our staff within the Northern Sydney Local Health District and the NORTH Foundation, thank you for your continued support.

I wish you and your family all the best this festive season.

Stay safe,

Dr Sarah Wesley
Deputy Director of ICU
Royal North Shore Hospital

PS I also encourage you to share some Christmas joy with our staff by filling in our ‘messages of thanks’ form here

Watch this message from Dr Sarah Wesley