On March 11th 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus/COVID-19 epidemic a pandemic. A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease, affecting a large number of people. It is usually declared when it is likely that large scale global spread of the virus has occurred or is likely to occur, and governments and health systems need to ensure that they are appropriately prepared to cater to the increase in community needs.
Although most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness which does not require specialist treatment, this is not the case for all. Some members of our community are particularly susceptible and vulnerable to contracting a life-threatening form of the disease. These individuals include the elderly and those with underlying medical issues (such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer).
With the spread of COVID-19 we are experiencing an unprecedented health crisis that is already beginning to place a significant strain on our healthcare systems worldwide.
The Northern Sydney Local Health District (‘Our District’) has an 11,000 strong workforce of health professionals who are all highly trained to deal with difficult situations on a daily basis and they are currently doing their best to meet the needs of the community during this pandemic.
Our District has been focused on providing a coordinated clinical management plan and for this reason has established specialty COVID-19 Clinics (for screening and testing) at Royal North Shore, Ryde, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai, Mona Vale and Northern Beaches hospitals to allow for the efficient assessment and diagnosis of patients with possible COVID-19 infections.
As the situation with COVID-19 has continued to progress, our District has been working closely with General Practitioners (GPs) and other outpatient services in an effort to decrease the likelihood of transmissions and increase staff availability to provide care to patients who need it most. As a result, our District has established multiple COVID-19 Outreach Services to provide crucial services to the community including:
- A dedicated testing helpline that makes and receives calls from staff and community members regarding testing for COVID-19 in our COVID-19 testing clinics.
- Notifying patients and the relevant authorities of positive and negative COVID-19 test results
- Medical assessments and welfare checks for confirmed positive cases in home isolation (including FAQs & Quarantine Packs)
- Welfare checks for staff in home isolation
- Residential Aged Care Facility ‘Swab Team’ dedicated to providing education and in-house testing for suspected cases of COVID-19 within NSLHD Aged Care Facilities
Importantly, our District is currently developing expansion plans with our hospitals and the Critical Care Taskforce to rapidly increase our ICU capacity to prepare us for the increase in patient and community needs.
Our District’s teams of doctors, nurses and health care professionals are working on the frontline of disease prevention and the delivery of crucial patient care services every day. We will continue to do all that we can to support our medical and health care professionals but when faced with an unprecedented health crisis like this it will take all of us banding together as a community to make a difference. In addition to following the advice of New South Wales Health (ensuring that you practice social distancing and implementing stringent hygiene habits) you also have the opportunity to support your local hospital and its staff.
How you can support your local NSLHD Hospital
We understand that this is an extremely difficult time for all of us and therefore we want to provide you with a variety of ways that you can support our hospitals and staff:
- Promote your local hospital and its staff – Even though you may not be able to physically see them, why not use your social media channels to send a message of thanks or simply promote some of the stories and content we will be creating showcasing their work? Remember to use the Hashtag #Grateful4___ to demonstrate to our staff that we are grateful for the personal sacrifices that they are making and the lifesaving services they provide!
- Royal North Shore Hospital – #Grateful4RNSH
- Ryde Hospital – #Grateful4RYDE
- Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital– #Grateful4HKH
- Fundraise for us – As we are now implementing self-isolation practices, we will be providing fun, new and exciting ways to engage in community fundraising using our online platform (north-foundation.raisely.com). Whether it be challenging your friends to a virtual physical challenge, conducting a cookie drop or participating in one of our virtual community partner classes (yoga, meditation, pilates, etc) you can find something that works for you and directly supports your local hospital.
- Give a ‘Gift of Gratitude’ – Make a donation to one of our COVID-19 Patient Support Funds by clicking the ‘Donate’ button at the top of this page. By making a gift to any of our COVID-19 Support Funds you will be:
- Supporting speciality COVID-19 Clinics, COVID-19 Wards, and other necessary patient services
- Helping to supply crucial Personal Protective Equipment (such as protective eyewear, masks, gowns, aprons, hand wash, and alcohol rubs) to medical staff treating patients
- Helping to increase stock of necessary supplies and medical equipment needed for COVID-19 patients
- Providing additional funding for support services for our hospital and medical staff
- Other COVID-19 patient and staff-related costs deemed necessary to help our hospitals better serve the community during the pandemic.
- Give a ‘Gift in Kind’ – We appreciate all forms of support and understand that the community wants to give to our hospital and staff in a variety of different ways including ‘Gifts in Kind’ (surgical masks, coffee, snacks, sanitizer, etc). We are currently working with our Hospitals to finalise a ‘Gifts in Kind’ policy that clearly outlines what we can and can’t receive (primarily due to health and safety precautions). Please be patient with us while we do this – we only want what is best for our staff and the community with health, safety and equity underlying all decisions that we make.
- Promote NORTH Foundation – We known that there are members of the community eager to do more to help their local hospital and its medical and healthcare workers – by promoting the NORTH Foundation to your networks you can let people know that this opportunity exists and demonstrate the type of impact that they can have. No matter how big or modest a donation is, the power of community giving has always been in its ability to unite people for a common good. Promote that you support us and inspire someone else to do the same!
- Engage with our Activities – We will slowly be shifting our stewardship events to the virtual world and hope to be able to offer a range of different activities such as webinars, virtual tours, panel discussions, up close and personal with researchers, etc. We would love for you all to support us as we make this leap into the unknown (at least for us it is unknown territory!) and not only engage with our activities but share them with your networks.